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UNC Health Care’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Forecasts the Future of Digital Health

October 18, 2017
by Heather Landi
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There is much discussion in the healthcare industry about the potential for digital health innovation to transform healthcare delivery, and healthcare providers are beginning to deploy digital tools to better understand and serve their patients.

However, this convergence of healthcare and technology presents many challenges for hospital and health system executive leaders as they look to effectively leverage digital health and integrate it into clinical workflow. Michael Levy serves as the entrepreneur-in-residence on the clinical faculty at UNC Health Care System, based in Chapel Hill, N.C., and he is working to guide the health system’s digital health strategy. Levy also is co-founder and CEO of Bluedoor, a Chapel Hill-based digital health startup that works to connect healthcare with entrepreneurs and digital health partners to promote product development. Levy is a healthcare executive turned entrepreneur who specializes in culture transformation and operations. Prior to co-founding Bluedoor, he was co-founder and COO of Digital Therapy, a cognitive computing company in the behavioral health space. He also has held leadership roles at a number of health systems, including the University of Miami Health System and UCLA Health.

Levy will join other healthcare IT leaders to discuss forward-thinking patient engagement through technology, and other health IT topics, during the Health IT Summit in Raleigh, sponsored by Healthcare Informatics, held October 19 and 20. Levy spoke with Healthcare Informatics Associate Editor Heather Landi about his work at UNC Health Care and his forecast for digital health in the patient care environment.

What is the entrepreneur-in-residence position at UNC Health Care?

For the health care system and the school of medicine and under the UNC Health Care System’s Center for Health Innovation, the position was created for me to sit in a bridged role where I can bring the external ecosystem within the Triangle and beyond to UNC’s doorstep, and UNC can engage with the internal ecosystem together, in an open innovation environment. It’s bringing digital health to the table in the ways of discovering problems, evaluating needs and designing and developing solutions, digitally. And, essentially, it’s bringing those stakeholders together, both from the outside and the inside, with a level of regularity to produce an engine, if you will, that starts with cultivating the ecosystem and advancing ideas through a vetting process to get to some executable digital health solutions, ultimately. And those digital health solutions could be internally implemented and deployed throughout the healthcare system, or spun out in a commercial environment or done with research studies around it.

What are you focused on right now at UNC Health Care?

I think there’s a two-pronged approach here. One, how do you improve the experience of care delivery within a system and, and then, how do you engage with patients in their life flow outside the system? There are opportunities scattered across both environments where technology can enable new ways of providing value from an experience and engagement perspective. At UNC Health Care, we’re looking at the care continuum, from a patient perspective and each step along the process of receiving care through various service lines and various condition-specific instances, and saying ‘Where can we use and leverage technology to bring a more overall engaging experience?’ We are looking at it from an access perspective—how can we leverage price transparency tools? How can we reach the patient where they are, like retailers and financial institutions do—leveraging social media, leveraging chat bot technologies, how do we bring the conversation to the patient, through various modes of communication that can only be enabled through digital means?

And then we get into a system and it’s about, what can we do from a pre-procedure perspective? How can we deliver educational materials in a digestible manner, in bite-sized chunks over time, instead of giving the patient a 40-page manual of flat text? So, we’re constantly challenging each step of the process and looking at where we can apply technology. And then, how do we string that together to create a cohesive experience for the patient, from staying in their lives, in their homes and in their communities, to coming into the system; a system that has historically been very arduous, complex and unflattering, in respects to the level of experience that one receives. We’re just really trying to dissect the ecosystem, as best as possible, and look at ways to apply technology to enable the interactions.

Can you give examples of using technology to engage patients outside the hospital?

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