How Digital Engagement with Patients Leads to Better Quality Care with Mike McSherry of Xealth

In an episode of the This Week in Health IT podcast, Bill Russell and Xealth CEO Mike McSherry discussed how digital engagement with patients leads to better quality care experiences and outcomes. They also discuss what digital health means for patient education, decision making and the quality of the care experience.

McSherry says Xealth’s definition of digital health is different from a more traditional understanding of the field. He says that Xealth’s definition of digital health encompasses everything from apps managing behavioral health and chronic illnesses, to patient education, to facility prep and recovery. His goal is to facilitate better digital engagement with the patient to encourage more effective quality and outcome measurements.

The behavioral health app SilverCloud has been launched at three health systems by Xealth, enrolling two thirds of the patients prescribed to use it. Preliminary data shows that 75 percent of enrolled members are experiencing an improvement in their depression. Another app Xealth has partnered with is focused on maternity care, providing expecting parents with live telehealth data and information about their health and pregnancy.

McSherry sees the healthcare industry sticking with digital health options even after in-person appointments become feasible again. He notes that so many parts of life, from booking flights to mobile banking transactions, have moved to the digital space and it makes sense for healthcare to move there as well. He notes that some parts of healthcare aren’t ready to move over to digital, and that face-to-face interactions between physician and patient are still necessary parts of the system. He compares his goals in digital health to an app like Uber, saying that healthcare needs to be similarly straightforward when it comes to scheduling appointments.

McSherry sees telehealth as an opportunity to provide quality experiences surrounding every part of the healthcare process and improve patients’ capabilities to meet with a physician in person. He wants to streamline the process of finding a trusted physician and making an appointment beforehand, and then make it easy to fill out necessary documents and information afterwards. He wants Xealth to create a consumer-friendly experience that is seamless for patient care.

He notes that there’s going to be continued consolidation in the healthcare industry and that digital health is a way for hospital systems to remain viable. Virtual solutions can be cheaper and more efficient, promoting revenue and satisfaction for patients. Moving all parts before and after an appointment into the digital space will also help hospitals focus on more specific practices and avoid hurting their financial systems.

McSherry said he believes hospitals are looking at each other like competitors, and if they’re doing so, they’re going to try to find the most efficient way to operate, which includes digital health. He predicts that 60 percent of health care is going to remain in-person and 40 percent is going to go to a virtual environment. This estimate is more than enough to guarantee telehealth a permanent place in the healthcare industry.

Listen to the full podcast here.