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Primary Health Is… Surround Sound and Streaming Care

I have always felt there is an advantage to being in the healthcare industry because it is typically 5-7 years behind most others in the adoption and application of new and emerging technological or cultural shifts. This allows those who are paying attention to see how those cultural trends can be appropriated to healthcare with years of lessons already learned. The incongruity between the breakneck progress of innovation in healthcare and the lagging pace of change in its delivery has never failed to amaze ( and frustrate) me. On the one hand, you have remarkable scientific breakthroughs (i.e., unlocking genome secrets), the many incredible new medical inventions (i.e., robotic surgery), and most recently, the breakneck speed of modern drug development (i.e., COVID vaccine development). On the other hand, while the vaccine development was incredible, getting a handwritten paper record of your vaccine isn’t so great. Also, how about the backwards level of customer service, the utter lack of cost transparency or consumer pricing, and the general lack of adoption of basic modern conveniences like messaging with your care team, scheduling appointments, making payments, and other basic common consumer expectations?

Which are all reminders to me of how healthcare should be.

If you could design the perfect health service for your family, what would it look like? What would it adapt and adopt from technological innovation elsewhere? What new behaviors could it normalize? For me, it would include a service that surrounds my entire family with care how we need it, when we need it, and where we need it. It would have modern conveniences and access to a trusted team of providers who can take care of the full range of basic and preventive health services. The care would be responsive and available, but also proactive and predictive. I would have a care team that knows me, because the relationship has been nurtured, trust has been established, and confidence has been built. My care and my personal health information could travel with me, be available as needed, and to be intelligent—with reminders and personalizations that help me achieve my health objectives. I would expect the service to be offered as a membership, where I feel valued, and receive tremendous value in return.

Which makes me think of Crossover Health, which is pioneering a new, comprehensive, integrated, coordinated type of care that we call Primary Health. And, Primary Health is both a Surround Sound and Streaming health membership service.

Surround Sound*: The first documented use of surround sound was in 1940, for the Disney studio’s animated film FantasiaWalt Disney was inspired by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov‘s operatic Flight of the Bumblebee and wanted the sounds to fly to all parts of the theatre. In order to do this, Disney had to invent a new multichannel audio application called ‘Fantasound.’ This innovation had three audio channels and over 50 different speakers, was controlled by an engineering team, and produced sound that diffused throughout the theatre. The technique has radically improved over the years in terms of fidelity as well as depth of sound production, which gives the end user the feeling of being immersed within the experience.

Isn’t this a perfect description of how our ideal health service should be experienced?

A designated care team, with whom you have established a trusted health relationship, surrounds you as needed (and with your permission), to help you navigate simple health issues as well as complex medical conditions. The fidelity of this type of experience is increased through multiple channels of access (in person, online, and anytime), through multiple “speakers” who can engage you in their specific area of expertise (primary care, physical medicine, mental health, health coaching, and care navigation), and a “care engineering” team that is constantly monitoring the health signals coming back from each individual member (through health monitoring, proactive care outreach, and always on support). To build a model like this you must break away from the “tyranny of the visit” as well as the disincentives of the fee-for-service payment architecture. I predict with the ongoing digitalization of the world, the health monitoring aspects of care (including remote monitoring) will become much more capable and pervasive—and we will be ready!

Streaming*: This is a new word that has entered our lexicon as the part of the technological advance of new media. The definition of streaming is any “media that is presented to and received by an end user while being delivered by a provider. Streaming refers to the delivery method of the medium, rather than the medium itself. Streaming is an alternative to file downloading, where the end user obtains the entire file for the content before watching or listening to it. Through streaming, an end user can use their media player to start playing digital video or digital audio content before the entire file has been transmitted. The term “streaming” can apply to many forms of media including video, audio, and text formats.

As you consider the above, what would a “streaming” health service even look like?

I personally think this is the perfect definition of Primary Health as a Monitoring Service. Beyond the novelty of tracking fitness and performance, I think the value of health monitoring was finally brought home during the pandemic, where the health status of every member often needed to be known on a daily basis. And, this information was needed over days and weeks in what was effectively a continuous stream. Furthermore, COVID is a condition that goes on for an extended period of time, and someone’s health status can vary widely in symptoms and acuity. This is where the value of a connected team—both connected to you and connected to each other—is incredibly valuable. Physicians, nurses, mental health, physical medicine, and care navigators all built in and all built to work together. Serving care needs across the full spectrum as well as the full continuum of care. Real-time access, available 24/7, through the device of your choosing, all streamed to you through the conduit of trust. This is really, really powerful.

Again, if you were to build your ideal model of care in our modern world, you would definitely design the service to Surround members with the care they need, as well as to Stream to them where they are, how they are, and as they need. Maybe ‘Fantasound’ was in fact a great name during its time, but I kind of think Primary Health has a nice ring to it for our time. Right. Now.

*adapted from Wikipedia definition of Surround Sound and Streaming January 18, 2020