A commonly stated definition of innovation is finding new tools for old problems. But with the urgency created by a crisis, that adage can get flipped on its head: The tools and partnerships that are already in place can be applied to solve the new problems that emerge.
That was the case for digital health company Insightin Health. Setting out to personalize healthcare, the Federal Hill-based biz developed tools that gather data for people on Medicare and Medicaid and uses machine learning to help the payers it works with to determine risk factors of patients, as well as automate the process of recommending a “next best action” that people should take for their health. It also had a partnership with ReferWell to make the calls to patients and schedule visits as necessary.
Amid the spread of COVID-19, CEO Enam Noor said the team recognized that these tools could be put to use as the healthcare system seeks to keep from getting overwhelmed.
Along with the tools it developed, the company was already applying it to a population that is seen as being most at-risk to the new coronavirus, as Medicare patients are often seniors or have chronic conditions. And it was helping to point patients toward the appropriate entity that could help treat them or fill needs.
The company is now applying its platform, called inGAGE, to take publicly available infection and mortality data, and create a model that shows the risk for populations at state and county levels.
The risk predictor can then be applied at the patient level, Noor said. Through the partnership with ReferWell, its team can make calls to patients to complete a COVID-19 assessment, which includes questions about a person’s own condition, or whether they’ve had contact with others who have potentially been showing symptoms. It’s the kind of pre-screening that might help the healthcare system as it receives more and more calls.
Based on the results of the assessment, they can schedule telehealth or in-person appointments if needed. It can also follow-up to identify the social needs that might arise, such as if they have needs for food or supplies.
With efforts being oriented toward keeping an influx of new patients from overwhelming the system all at the same time, providing those steps could help to direct patients to what they need, and free up healthcare staff in the meantime.
“It doesn’t cure. It doesn’t change the outcome. But as part of the flattening the curve approach, it could help,” Noor said.
After seeing interest from existing clients, InsightIn Health is moving quickly to get it launched. A new system would typically take several months of testing and development. But given the urgency, Insightin is moving on an accelerated timeline.
It’s being rolled out to the company’s existing clients this week as an additional tool they can use at no extra charge. If it’s proving effective, he also sees potential to bring it to a wider audience, including reach out to government partners seeking tools in the response.
Like many new tech ventures, the company of 30 employees was built to bring new solutions for a very targeted need in a specific part of a wider industry. So in looking to bring its relatively small group of people to the challenge that’s facing the whole world, it is starting with an area where it already has expertise. There’s also potential that bigger organizations can learn from what the team is doing.
“We want to help as much as we can,” Noor said.