Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

HealthCrew: A Peer Support App for Patient-Centered Medical Homes

Clayton Velicer, MPH

Continuing in our series of blogs on mobile health and peer support, this blog draws your attention to HealthCrew, a mobile app set to be released shortly. The company’s mission statement discusses the role that HealthCrew can play in changing the healthcare culture:

“Traditionally providers were reimbursed for services rendered. They got paid for every lab, test, and procedure they ran. As a result insufficient time was dedicated to providing general patient support.

In the future providers will be reimbursed for delivering healthy outcomes with high patient satisfaction. They will need tools to provide patients with support for chronic disease management.”

The company emphasizes that one of ways of improving chronic disease management is by ensuring more frequent and higher quality contact with patients. A recent medGadget interview with Sohan Japa, a co-founder of the company, shed light on how patient-patient communication can be a critical part of chronic disease management. Japa cites shared medical appointments as an area of inspiration, where care providers see multiple patients simultaneously, which has led to better health outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.

Japa stresses the importance of providing patients with continuous support between their 1-2 office visits per year. This has been cited by Peers for Progress as a key reason for the benefits of peer support and the inspiration behind our 8760 guide. Our guide outlines how peer support can help those with diabetes spend the 8,760 hours a year they are not in a doctor’s office improving their diabetes self-management.

To provide continuous support, HealthCrew will have 3 key platforms. The first assesses a patient’s health literacy and social/emotional capacity. The second uses this intake information to tailor educational materials and resources. Thirdly, a peer-to-peer mentoring tool allows patients to communicate securely with similar patients both online and offline as a means of providing peer support.

Unlike some of the apps we have previously highlighted for providing peer support, HealthCrew will not be targeting only physicians or patients, but rather patients and their entire care team.

“Patients with chronic diseases will be our focus, and diabetes and heart disease will be our first markets. On the medical side, we recognize the shift to team-based care and are working with nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, etc to ensure that it doesn’t create more work for them.

We’re currently targeting Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) as well as shared-risk programs for our initial rollout. Given the new emphasis on outcomes and patient satisfaction, hospitals and clinics will need a tool like HealthCrew to maximize reimbursement.”

At Peers for Progress, we are also exploring the potential of PCMH’s to deliver peer support through our project, funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Together on Diabetes Initiative. To read more about this project and associated resources please check out the project page here.

We will be closely following HealthCrew’s release and rollout to learn how it can be integrated into PCMH’s and how patients and providers use the different services offered by the platform. We are very excited about the continued development of tools like HealthCrew that can create new channels for patients to communicate with each other and provide peer support while maintaining a close connection with providers and educational resources. We invite our readers to share their thoughts on this exciting new platform and ongoing technology developments in the field of peer support and chronic disease self-management.

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