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THCB Spotlights: Todd Clardy, EVP Marketing at Accolade

Today on THCB Spotlights, Matthew interviews Todd Clardy who is the EVP of Marketing at Accolade. Accolade is a company well-known for being in employee/patient advocacy. They’ve created an advocacy model that focuses on creating an outstanding member experience and supporting patients through their whole journey, whether it’s an acute or chronic condition or helping people maintain their health and wellness. Where do Amazon, Google and Haven fit into this space? Find out how many people have got this and how Accolade will be expanding going forward.

Accolade flying flag as patient advocates

I have spent years whining that no one is doing a good job helping people navigate through the maze of health care. And a survey out last week from my old firm Harris paid for by Accolade confirms that people need help. Doctors don’t and can’t do this. 71% of people said they trusted their doctors, but only 16% said their doctors had time to understand their life circumstances. Yet last summer a touted Silicon Valley startup called Better failed to make a go of a service doing just that.

Somehow Accolade seems to be threading this needle. They’ve raised more than $125m (including another $30m late last year beyond what I discuss in this interview). While they’re helping patients they’re charging their employers and insurers for the service. Late last summer I met Accolade’s EVP Amy Loftus. In this interview she explains what they do, and how it works.

Diagnosis Is Not Therapy

PAMWe all know “that patient” – the one we may dismissively label “noncompliant.”

The person with diabetes whose HA1C is consistently above normal limits – the one who swears, when confronted with the numbers (yet again) he’ll start eating right and using his insulin as prescribed.

And yet, month after month, the lab work tells a different story. We watch in helpless frustration as patients like these spiral downward, developing complication after complication.

I thought about “that patient” as I read a recent Wall Street Journal article describing Dr. Judith Hibbard’s Patient Activation Measure (PAM), which she and her colleagues at the University of Oregon developed some years ago.

First, let me say I greatly admire the research and work of Dr. Hibbard and her team; I believe that the PAM is a wonderful tool and a step forward in better understanding patients.

While the article, and Dr. Hibbard, argue that the use of the tool can better target the needs of patients – and I agree – I can’t help but worry that the entire premise that patients need to be “activated” misses a point.

Patients are people before they are patients.

We know that when people are sick, they are still part of their broader world of family, friends and finances. We also know that their social, spiritual and psychological selves are every bit as important, and as important to their “cure” as their activation as a patient.

I suspect that Dr. Hibbard would agree with me and even argue that the PAM reflects all of these factors.

PAM is accurately diagnosing the end state – how all these factors impact the patient and the patient’s ability to be involved in his or her own care.

I worry, however, that the PAM may be oversold by healthcare administrators who put it in place as a way of trying to address all the factors that affect patient activation.

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