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Building Bridges, Not Blowing Them Up

When it comes to health, you want to work with a company that knows how to partner with the best

By Karl Ulfers | June 20, 2019 | Rally Health

"Disruption” is the holy grail for many startups and tech leaders, and the business landscape is dotted with megawatt disruptors who have completely upended staid industries. Uber tossed aside taxicabs when building the world’s largest ride-sharing service. Amazon rethought retail without a brick-and-mortar store in sight. And Netflix created a direct line to consumers’ TV screens, making it possible to watch premium movies without leaving your couch, complete with personalized recommendations.

But when it comes to health care, Silicon Valley-style disruption has been far more elusive. Unlike transportation, retail, or entertainment, health care isn’t just a relationship between company and consumer. Instead, it’s an ecosystem — among the patient, the provider, the insurance company, and the employer — and one that’s heavily regulated at that. Lone wolf disruption, in which a startup ignores the rules, rebuffs traditional partners, and disregards the status quo, isn’t only reckless in a health care setting, it can be pretty near impossible.

That doesn’t mean that health care isn’t sorely in need of fresh approaches — only that breakthroughs won’t come from blowing up bridges. Instead, they will come from closing the loop with providers and dramatically improving patient outcomes while lowering medical costs. Disruption? No thanks. You want innovation that sticks.

Here’s what this means for employers who want to create a better health care experience and better outcomes for their workforce.

The Problem: A Broken Compass

Employers want healthy employees — and not just because it’s human to wish others well. Healthier workers take fewer sick days, of course. But they also spend less time tending to health care concerns, either their own or their families’. And, research shows, they’re more productive to boot. A study in the journal Management Science found that, after employers introduced a voluntary wellness program, productivity jumped as much as 11 percent for employees who participated, compared with those who did not.

“Many people come to work not feeling their greatest. Showing up feeling better means people work harder on a day-to-day basis,” Ian Larkin, the study’s co-author and a management professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The Wall Street Journal.

Yet getting and staying healthy requires people to first navigate multiple steps in their health care journey, including:

  • Understanding the care they need
  • Evaluating and choosing a provider
  • Scheduling an appointment
  • Coordinating the transfer of health records and insurance information
  • Paying for care
  • And all the while, making healthy lifestyle choices

A spate of startups have promised to disrupt one or another segment of the patient journey — crafting Yelp-style provider review pages, say, or making telehealth as easy to access as tapping an app. In fact, employers find there’s no shortage of buzzy vendors offering to help them address each obstacle.

Unfortunately, though, those vendors are siloed. One helps with nutrition, another with smoking cessation, yet another with finding how much a certain procedure may cost. So employers use a one-off solution from each of them, and their employees either forget which tools are even available to them or face the difficulty of dealing with many different vendors.

That’s not meaningful disruption; that’s tech-fueled noise, making an already complicated ecosystem even more fragmented, as employers find themselves in a tangled mess of vendor management.

Even worse, when people don’t have access to the tools they need, they might not make the most informed choices or decisions. And that can negatively affect their health.

The Solution: A Clear, Seamless Experience

That’s why at Rally® we’re building a clear, seamless connection between employers, vendors, and consumers. And we’re uniquely suited to pull it off.

For starters, we’re bringing health and care together into one integrated experience, helping employees easily find both the programs and the benefits they need. The Rally platform brings these two aspects together, along with all of your company’s benefits.

It’s intertwined with rewards and personalization for an individually relevant experience that keeps people coming back, whether they’re accessing their HSA, ordering new prescriptions with RX providers, or fulfilling a goal to lose weight with Real Appeal coaching programs.

We’ve achieved this in large part through our partnerships with UHC and Optum, taking “integration” with health programs and clinical data one step further. All of these programs are under one roof, supported with industry-standard Single Sign On (SSO) and identity and access management capabilities, bringing the convenience and ease of everyday consumer experiences to health care.

We are constantly improving these capabilities too, by deepening integrations and simplifying registrations across third-party vendors. For example, we are launching auto-registration with a virtual visit provider, making it hassle-free to access care immediately and helping employees avoid unnecessary visits to costly emergency rooms or urgent care clinics.

We aren’t inventing the wheel from scratch or offering second-best solutions when the best is already out there. Instead, we identify the companies that already excel at these solutions, and we partner and integrate with them. So when you work with Rally Health, you’re working with the best vendors and solutions on the market. You don’t have to shop for each and every one on your own.

Employees Benefit, Too

Your employees also benefit from having all of their health tools in one integrated platform. When they want to find a primary care provider — and not just any doctor, but one who’s highly rated, within their network, and accepting new patients — they turn to one place. And there’s no need to log in to different portals or platforms when they’re ready to schedule an appointment, share their medical info, or pay their bills. Access and follow-through are as easy as it gets — which creates healthier, happier employees.

That’s every employer’s goal, and our view is that it begins with one bridge — a bridge that takes employers to an expansive network that provides exactly what employees need at each step of their health care journey.

In our vision, employees won’t have to make sure their providers have information about which prescriptions they’re taking; the information will be readily available. They won’t have to worry that a provider isn’t in network; they’ll be able to see at a glance which doctors are in network and what the cost difference might be. They won’t have to go to a different vendor to get information about the care they need, another to figure out where best to get it, yet another to schedule it, and then another still to pay for it.

Employees may not realize that Rally Health is behind all of that, and that’s OK with us. But employers will certainly appreciate that Rally has taken vendor management off their shoulders, driving increased engagement, better health outcomes, and more cost-effective care in the process. And they’ll reap the rewards of healthier, happier, more productive workers. We consider that innovation a clear win — and it beats disruption for disruption’s sake any day.

Karl Ulfers is chief product officer at Rally Health, Inc.

Karl Ulfers
Rally Health