Well Health, OSIS partner to bring patient communications tech to community health centers

Well Health is teaming up with a technology services organization to provide community health centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) more advanced patient communications technologies, making it easier for doctors to text with their patients.

Well Health's patient communication platform enables conversations between patients and their providers through secure messaging in the patient’s preferred channel—SMS/texting, email or phone—and preferred language, with 19 languages available for use. Well Health offers accessible digital patient engagement with a simple SMS/texting solution that does not require an app download, internet access or even a password. This makes the technology easily accessible to diverse populations and can help ensure patients attend appointments, understand and adhere to care plans, and become more engaged in their care, executives said.

Through a partnership with OSIS, more than 60 community health centers and FQHCs will have discounted access to Well Health's technology platform via the OSIS Partner Program.

"When you look at the needs of the country in terms of better access to care and better communication and a more seamless experience, those needs are even more profound in the community health centers (CHCs) and FQHC space," Guillaume de Zwirek, CEO and founder of Well Health, told Fierce Healthcare.

"When you look at the CHC space, you're looking at a population that often has a particularly busy lifestyle. These are people with multiple jobs and are often juggling complicated, large families. Asynchronous communication is really important for them. It's important for folks who are going from one job to the next and don't have 30 minutes to wait on hold, but still need access to care," he said.

He added, "With these healthcare organizations, the budgets are typically smaller, they have fewer teams and for them to evaluate all the options of technology available to them, it's challenging."

Through the partnership, Well Health can help OSIS extend better pricing on software to their members.

Healthcare is one industry that should be known for its customer service, but the sector has fallen behind as other industries have embraced consumer-centric approaches, de Zwirek said. For patients, communicating with doctors and care teams should be as easy as texting a friend, he said.

More than 130 FQHCs use Well Health to automate disjointed communications across their entire organizations, eliminating the barriers that often keep patients from good clinical outcomes and better relationships with their providers, de Zwirek said.

OSIS members can utilize Well Health to communicate with patients throughout their entire care experience for everything from instructions before a procedure to post-appointment follow-up. OSIS members can also leverage ChatAssist AI to automatically respond to thousands of routine patient inquiries to free up their staff to focus on high-touch patient interactions and mitigate staff burnout, which 82% of surveyed clinical support staff attribute to the patient communications process, according to a recent Well Health study. 

"Accessing Well Health through OSIS makes a major difference because when OSIS gives an endorsement of a vendor they have already evaluated for the workflow best practices, implementation methodologies, discounts in the pricing model and their understanding of the community health center needs," Peter Mojarras, chief operations officer at Castle Family Health Centers, told Fierce Healthcare.

Effective digital patient communication can make a big difference in access to care in today’s "digital-first” world, Mojarras said.

"Most of our patients, which are primarily Medical and Medicare patients, do not have time to wait on hold to speak with their healthcare provider. Harnessing patient communications technology—such as Well Health—to engage with patients via text/SMS is an imperative for us to serve our patient population today," he said.

Santa Barbara, California-based Well Health helps 400 healthcare organizations facilitate more than 1.1 billion messages for 40 million patients annually. The company scored a $45 million series C funding round in 2020 led by Lead Edge Capital. It was the first investment publicly announced by the company, which has raised $75 million since its founding in 2015.

Well Health has helped CHCs and FQHCs reach and engage vulnerable patient populations in their care through secure patient communications. As one example, healthcare providers used Well Health to facilitate more than 10 million COVID-19 vaccine appointments, 1.6 million of which were in partnership with FQHCs.

The company will soon support 100 languages to engage diverse patient populations in their preferred language and overcome potential language barriers that could impede access to care, de Zwirek. The company also continues to explore adding more capabilities to enable better communication between doctors and patients.

"Our long-term goal is to make the experience of interacting with healthcare the best customer experience. To that, we really need to power every single interaction that happens between patients in the healthcare industry," he said. "We need to make sure that when patients get referred to specialists or when they need follow-up from procedures that we are also powering that same seamless, frictionless experience. So, we start thinking about other ways that patients want to interact. For example, people are still talking on the phone. We are exploring whether the phone is something we want to get more involved in. Do we want to test owning some of those experiences? Those are the things we are looking at."