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MercyOne Uses Consumer Tech to Encourage Wellness, Patient Engagement

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   April 27, 2022

The Iowa health system has launched a subscription-based program, with help from Fitbit, to not only encourage people to improve their health and wellness, but share that information with the care providers.

Healthcare organizations are looking to the consumer wearables space to promote health and wellness, with the goal of improving patient engagement and clinical outcomes.

The latest to do so is MercyOne, which has launched a subscription-based wellness platform aimed at helping consumers improve their lifestyles through digital health.

The Iowa-based health system is making its Circle+ powered by MercyOne platform available to anyone, whether or not they’re a patient. Participants can sign up and complete an assessment to gain access to a suite of virtual resources and mHealth apps, at a charge of $19.99 per month.

The program, unveiled this past March, combines the benefits of the consumer-facing digital health market with the support of a healthcare organization, which can curate and recommend specific resources and products. Surveys have shown that consumers will embrace health and wellness ideas more readily if they’re supported or recommended by a healthcare provider.

The health system is partnering with Fitbit on the program, which gives members a free Inspire 2 fitness tracker or preferred pricing on a more expensive wearable, as well as a Fitbit Premium membership. Other benefits include access to apps like Navigate Wellbeing, Total Brain, and Fringe.

“MercyOne has embraced consumer-facing digital health overall including remote patient monitoring, virtual nursing, [and] virtual triage, as well as virtual visits for primary and specialty care and more,” MercyOne President and CEO Bob Ritz said in an e-mail interview with HealthLeaders. “This partnership with Fitbit is just one of the ways we are continuing to offer care anywhere and connect with consumers in new ways.”

“Our mission calls us to transform the health of our communities, and our vision is to set the standard for a personalized and radically convenient system of health services,” he added. “Ultimately with Circle+ powered by MercyOne, we want to connect with people before they are sick to keep them well. We develop comprehensive business plans to support our innovation initiatives, which include return on investment assessments.”

Officials say the program will not only drive interest in preventative care, but support the health system’s clinical services as well. They want people in the program to not only pay more attention to their health, but share that data with their care providers, who in turn can guide them and improve care management.

“We plan to evolve our … program to support clinical pathways,” Janell Pittman, MercyOne’s chief marketing and digital strategy officer, said in the e-mail exchange. “MercyOne has long been a believer in the impact social influencers of health have on health outcomes and has employed community health workers, health coaches and more to impact health outcomes by addressing loneliness, transportation, prescription access and food security to name just a few. We will continue to transform the health of our communities by supplementing analog approaches with digital with expanded use of remote patient monitoring, expanded connections to patients via asynchronous and synchronous care, hospital at home and more.”

“We do encourage members to download critical pieces of [the program] to share with their provider,” added Try Cook, the health system’s division director of business solutions. “These items include the results of wearable tracking, health risk assessment summary, health coaching goals, and other results-oriented metrics. Each member is provided specific instructions on how to download and provide this info to their providers. Our providers and care managers will use this data and member input to provide personalized care.”

“We want to connect with people before they are sick to keep them well. We develop comprehensive business plans to support our innovation initiatives, which include return on investment assessments.”

Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Healthcare organizations are looking for new ways to engage with their patients in promoting health and wellness, which aids in reducing healthcare costs and chronic health concerns down the road.

MercyOne has launched a subscription-based program for anyone in the community, giving them a Fitbit device and access to digital health apps and other resources.

Health system executives are hoping that members will not only improve their health and wellness, but share that data with their care providers to improve care management.


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