GetWellNetwork acquires Docent Health to bolster consumer engagement with AI

Artificial intelligence continues to revolutionize the healthcare space as GetWellNetwork, a patient engagement company, plans to acquire Docent Health, a consumer engagement company powered by AI.

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

GetWellNetwork offers a platform that helps patients, families and clinicians navigate the care journey, from inpatient to outpatient. Venture-backed Docent Health offers a real-time text messaging platform that lets healthcare providers triage patients and guide them to the next steps in their care. The platform will combine with GetWellNetwork’s library of 230-plus guided digital care journeys.

As part of the deal, Royal Tuthill, co-founder and president of Docent, will become GetWellNetwork’s general manager for Docent Health and guide product and commercial strategy. By combining, GetWellNetwork and Docent will be able to address the fragmentation of services and provider relationships, the executives told Fierce Healthcare.

“Bringing together a broad array of resources across that care continuum to manage a customer's life longitudinally I think is really important,” Tuthill said.

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Michael O’Neil, GetWellNetwork’s founder and CEO, noted that a digital ecosystem of tools can be more fragmented than the manual healthcare processes they have replaced and lack interoperability. Patients engage with their providers on standalone apps for diabetes or orthopedics.

“What we have a chance to do with the combination of GetWellNetwork and Docent is really on behalf of providers begin to consolidate this into a unified digital experience across all of their not only episodes of care but their journey through care when they're not in an episode,” O’Neil said.

With SMS messages, Docent helps connect patients and weave episodes of care together, according to O’Neil.

“Docent adds a layer that is almost like connective tissue between these touchpoints and episodes of care that allows us to stream through and stay connected very intimately to patients all the way throughout their journey through SMS,” O’Neil said.

GetWellNetwork will offer the integrated patient engagement experience immediately, the company reported.

Docent offers consumer engagement services that help with COVID-19 tracing and monitoring as well as address population health, health equity and mental health issues. GetWellNetwork’s GetWell Loop is engaging patients to help them with COVID-19 testing, symptom monitoring and vaccine preparation. It helps patients understand how the vaccines work, including the dose regimen, and schedules them for appointments. Docent adds an SMS bot to help automate this process and check a patient’s vaccine eligibility.

three smartphones with screen shots of GetWellNetwork's apps that help patients with COVID-19 testing, symptom monitoring and vaccine preparation
GetWell Loop app (GetWellNetwork)

Docent’s customer engagement system integrates into electronic health record (EHR) practice management systems as part of a holistic patient profile, Tuthill said.  

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Docent provides AI texting and live, bidirectional chat. As part of its consumer engagement services, the company also offers push campaigns, automated AI chats and live SMS conversations, Tuthill said.

“We can use that information to trigger new next-best actions down the line,” Tuthill said.

Meanwhile, GetWellNetwork offers tools such as GetWell Anywhere, a digital patient engagement platform that helps augment tasks such as specialist referrals, digital registration, procedure preparation and admission and discharge.  

“When you begin to put these things together, you can really have a pretty big impact at scale on getting the right people in to get vaccinated and making sure we're monitoring and understanding the impact on folks as they walk through all this,” O’Neil said.

The acquisition news follows Docent’s recent expansion of its partnership with Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, a health system with 137 hospitals and 1,000-plus care sites across 21 states. The company previously offered a virtual care navigator program to CommonSpirit for maternity and orthopedic patients. A multiyear study of the outcomes of 10,000 CommonSpirit patients using the program found a 37% reduction in preterm births among mothers on Medicaid and a 71% drop in 30-day readmission rates for orthopedic patients.

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Docent will now expand these capabilities to vulnerable or underserved patients. The company is helping CommonSpirit analyze care data by using AI to personalize care and predict which referrals are right for patients.

“We are doing more and more work with our partners on how to reach populations that we haven't historically reached well, and what Docent has done in the health equities space and disadvantaged communities with some of the largest health providers in the country is quite remarkable for a company their size,” O’Neil said. “It just helps us accelerate into some work that we're doing on that front as well.”

In addition to CommonSpirit, Docent helps large enterprises such as Northwell Health and Sutter Health “close that last mile and connect with patients that they’ve typically had trouble connecting with,” Tuthill said. This work is part of Docent’s strategy to democratize care and enable health systems to engage their full populations, he added.

Following the acquisition, GetWellNetwork and Docent will work with providers to manage patient populations and communicate with them. After that, GetWellNetwork plans to expand to payers, O’Neil said.