Chief Operating Officer
BETTER OUTCOMES AND LOWER COSTS
Wellbridge Health is a tele-health care management company. We work with health plans, providers, and employers, focusing on their highest cost/highest risk members and employees – the 15-20% who incur 70-80% of the costs. Our approach focuses on getting ahead of medical crises, teaching how to access the right care at the right place at the right time, improving self-management of chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic kidney disease to prevent disease progression, and providing guidance and resources to remove barriers having to do with the social determinants of health. Our goal is to improve quality of life and reduce health care spend by decreasing avoidable emergency room visits and hospitalizations and improving quality of life.
Wellbridge was founded by Dr. Danny Rosen, a Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. It grew from his work in underserved communities and populations, as he became interested in how to exponentially increase the number of impactful “touches” between individuals and health professionals in between typical face-to-face visits. Many of our members are Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who are often socially isolated, have comorbid depression, and lack access to the kind of support and education needed to improve their clinical situation.
Personally, prior to joining Wellbridge Health – an early stage start-up company – I worked across the full continuum of care (inpatient, outpatient, physical rehabilitation, adult, pediatric) in large established health care organizations. Then, for several years prior to coming to Wellbridge Health, I was with an organization where I co-developed an approach to improving the patient-centeredness of care. I’ve brought everything I’ve learned in these domains to our work here at Wellbridge, where we’ve built a team of highly skilled and motivated clinicians and technology experts. Our health coaches, who are all master’s prepared, are additionally trained in behavior change theory – the combination of which has led to the development of a unique, patient-focused, successful approach to chronic disease management.
The Wellbridge Health model combines simple 7-day/week remote symptom monitoring (<2 minutes/day) using an iPhone that Wellbridge Health can provide, with weekly face-to-face HIPAA-compliant video chats with a dedicated health coach - for over 400 touchpoints annually. This comprehensive and scalable approach provides our health coaches with both daily and trend data to achieve the scope of goals that together impact health spend and outcomes for individuals with chronic disease. We have members from the age of 21 to the age of 91. And even though some of our older members have never had a cell phone before, the app is elegantly simple, and we find they have very little trouble learning how to use it.
We completed a successful pilot in 2015 and launched commercially at the end of 2016. For patients with CHF and diabetes, we’ve seen cost reductions (fewer hospital visits) of between 12% and 35% per member per month, depending on what the member’s health costs were before entering the program. We’ve seen significant clinical improvements, as well, including reduced A1C levels (an important diabetes marker) for many members, improved preventive care, and a statistically significant decrease in our members’ depression scores. We’ve recently expanded our lines of business to include programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and with end-stage renal disease.
The environment here at Wellbridge Health is one of cooperation — everybody here has something to contribute above and beyond their primary role. Our tech team and our clinical team work hand-in-hand. Everything is done collaboratively. We are intent on creating the best product and service for our end users (individual members and large clients). We’re building, and as we grow, we’re refining a model that hasn’t been done before. Our team is building exciting new Health IT and we’re changing lives. We see it every day.
WORDS OF WISDOM
I think there’s huge potential for Health IT in Pittsburgh. However, it’s important for people that have great ideas to keep in mind that healthcare is incredibly complex. The technology part is really exciting, but it can’t be done in a silo — it has to be integrated with the people, processes, and systems in mind.
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