DigniHealth gives doctors the information they need to keep their patients healthy.
DignifiHealth gives doctors the information they need to keep their patients healthy. running first a private primary care practice, then also a free clinic in Mingo County over the past two decades, Dr. Donovan “Dino” Beckett cares for a patient population with high levels of chronic conditions: obesity, diabetes, heart disease. He and his colleagues managed that over the years by applying lots of time and attention—reviewing each patient’s chart at length before a visit, considering any conditions the patient might be at risk of, noting which laboratory tests might be called for. That way, no matter what complaints might dominate a visit, the necessary preventive care would also take place.
It worked. “We were effective in treating patients, reducing risk factors, and bringing down health care costs,” Beckett says.
It worked, but it was labor-intensive.
Over that same period, working not far away in the Kentucky–Ohio–West Virginia tri-state area, another medical practice struggled with the same problem. “The only solution was an extremely manual, patient-by-patient workflow,” says Richard Queen, a health care industry finance professional who was working with that practice at the time. “That approach can’t serve a meaningful number of patients.”
Queen wanted a more scalable solution. A self-described lifelong tech geek, he started looking at how to use the electronic medical records (EMR) data his medical practice was already collecting to help its providers be more efficient and thorough.
Several years of development and some fortuitous introductions later, Beckett, Queen, and co-founder Randall Ussery launched DignifiHealth in 2020.
How it works
Our health care system typically waits for problems to show up, then fixes them. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
“Health care could take a cue from manufacturing, which knows about preventive maintenance,” Queen says. “Your car doesn’t say, ‘You needed to change your oil 1,000 miles ago’—it says, ‘Hey, you better change your oil soon.’”
The hardest part of the solution has already been put in place in most hospitals and other health networks. “Electronic medical records systems collect a lot of data from patients, pharmacies, and hospitals,” Beckett says. But, he says, it’s not in a usable format. “It’s not packaged or delivered in a way that you can apply it to caring for your patients.”
DignifiHealth solves that with a platform that “sits on top of” a health care system’s own EMR software, Beckett explains. “It takes the data that’s there and organizes it—puts it into data fields you can search and look for things that are meaningful.”
During a patient visit, a health care provider using DignifiHealth gets clear point-of-care clinical insights: What do recommended best practices suggest at this time—for example, is the patient due for an A1C to measure blood sugar levels? Given that the average primary care visit lasts only 7 minutes, this evidence-based guidance is invaluable to quality care.
DignifiHealth can also collect data from sources like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or the Census Bureau to inform decisions. “For example, if you’re providing care for a region, you can find that you have a concentration of diabetics in this zip code versus that one,” Beckett says. “So you can say, ‘Maybe we should put a clinic in this area as opposed to that area.’”
Memorial Health System, a 300-provider system in southeastern Ohio and northwestern West Virginia, began using DigniHealth in April 2020. MHS’s first six months’ experience gives a snapshot of what’s possible. The system was able to, among other improvements:
- Increase its point-of-care gap closure—that’s the difference between care provided and recommended best practices for wellness—from 8.5% to 40%, and rising.
- Identify its most at-risk patients
- Schedule two additional patient visits per provider per day because of increased efficiency.
The changes were so quick, so noticeable, and so positive, Queen says, that multiple
insurance companies—Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana—asked MHS what they were doing differently so they could share it with other systems as best practice. “And what’s important to note is that the impact can be had very quickly, but then it’s also sustained,” Queen says. “We make an enormous impact on Day 1, then we continue taking great care of patients.”
In the spring of 2022, nearly 200,000 patients are benefitting from the DignifiHealth platform, with lots of potential to come.
“This allows providers to more effectively manage patients—reduce risk, reduce hospitalizations, and reduce ER visits,” Beckett says.
“We’ve seen a lot of technology come out in health care over the past decade,” Queen says. “Some huge advances—yet we’re here in 2022 with the highest rates of diabetes, COPD, heart disease, and countless other chronic diseases. What is all this tech teaching us? DignifiHealth strives to move the needle by informing the provider of the right care for the right patient at the right time.