Accolade Combines an Advanced Technology Platform and Personal Health Assistants to Reduce Healthcare Costs and Complexity

Accolade reduces the complexity and expense of healthcare by empowering individuals and organizations to make better decisions, both medical and financial. One of the most important segments of Accolade’s customer base is made of large and mid-sized enterprises who pay for their own healthcare costs for their employees.

These companies use insurance carriers as administrators, but take on the vast majority of the risk as they pay for employee claims. Amidst the extreme complexity of the healthcare industry, costs are rising and putting pressure on enterprises and their employees alike.

Accolade understands that healthcare costs can be mitigated through better healthcare decisions — such as ensuring preventative care is taken, compliance with medication and treatment plans, and helping consumers adhere to the basics (following care plans, finding the right medical professionals, filling prescription medications, etc.).

Rather than seeing the industry-average 6% increase in healthcare costs, Accolade employer customers save 3-5% in claim costs in year one and up to 15% by year five – a 3:1 return on investment.

The key to this cost management is Accolade’s ability to pair every employee and plan member with a personal healthcare advisor. The advisor forms a trusted, personalized relationship with the member and serves as their guide throughout the healthcare process — from questions and support around benefits and bills, to healthcare questions and needs.

Accolade combines this human touch with their intelligence engine, Maya, which they developed in-house to help their health advisors and clinical teams deliver the most personalized and effective guidance. Accolade is an open and connected platform that integrates continuous data from individual claims and lab results, to health history and notes from interactions with Accolade Health Assistants and Nurses.

Creating this member-advisor relationship makes consumers healthier, happier, and ultimately saves money for all involved. However, providing personalized support and guidance around health plans deductibles, in-network providers, insurance charges, and more isn’t easy. In fact, the complexity of the healthcare system is in part what makes Accolade so valuable to their employer and health plan customers, and the members they support.

Another path to simplifying healthcare experience is by making healthcare information, Health Assistants and Nurses accessible via mobile phone. With that, Accolade turned to Layer to help them connect members and their dedicated Health Assistants on mobile devices.

The Problem: Frictionless Communication that Meets HIPAA Requirements

Accolade Health Assistants and Nurses have traditionally corresponded with the members via phone and email. This was a great start for a platform aimed at bringing personal relationships to a largely cold and faceless industry. But Accolade knew that they could enhance the experience further.

The objective is to pursue a mobile strategy that makes healthcare experiences as frictionless as possible while maintaining the trusted relationships that are foundational to the solution. Most healthcare technology companies’ strategies on mobile have centered around porting their already badly designed websites onto a smaller screen. For Accolade, creating a mobile-native solution meant foregoing the typical collection of impersonal menus and self-service interfaces and adopting a more human approach.

While this goal is common in other industries such as retail, hotels, and travel, there’s an additional challenge for supporting mobile customer conversations in healthcare—HIPAA compliance.

To meet data privacy and security regulations, Accolade has to maintain full access and ownership of member data while being able to implement encryption, security monitoring and user authentication best practices.

The Accolade team turned to Layer messaging to meet its complete set of needs.

Why Messaging Is the Right Fit for Accolade and Its Customers

Messaging has become the universal consumer experience in the mobile era. When customers open up an app and see messaging, they know exactly what to do.

And at this point, messaging has emerged as the primary way that friends and family connect. The key difference between disruptive phone calls and mobile messaging is the shift from synchronous to asynchronous communication.

Adopting asynchronous messaging for Health Assistants to communicate with consumers makes the communication feel more like texting a trusted friend. Members can form a trusted relationship and feel confident that Health Assistants and Nurses are there to help them. If something is urgent or requires a more detailed back-and-forth, members can easily initiate a call from within the app.

“People really love the asynchronous nature of messaging; we can all relate to that. To message a professional you know and trust about important and often confidential health-related questions while you’re at work with a one- or two-minute break, is a significant step forward in efficiency and a delightful experience.” — Mike Hilton, Chief Product Officer at Accolade.

How Accolade Blends AI and Human Support with Layer Mobile Messaging

Messaging Gives Health Assistants and Nurses the Right Context

Because traditional healthcare experiences haven’t adapted, consumers are forced to answer question after question to identify themselves before even receiving any advice or support.

Accolade specializes in unlocking rich contextual data about individuals and their life and health, and Layer makes it available right inside the conversation between Health Assistants and members. Accolade Health Assistants and clinical teams have complete access to health records and claims history, as well as notes from previous interactions, which present a deep pool of information to ensure their support and guidance is highly personalized to each individual.

Even when medical and billing records are incorporated in the conversation, Accolade remains HIPAA compliant with the help of touch ID, PIN number security, and end-to-end encryption that work hand-in-hand with Layer messaging.

This context becomes even more important with services like messaging Accolade’s own on-call nurses who can easily be patched into the Health Assistant-member conversation and be already up to speed on the member’s history and their issue thus far.

The Importance of Layer Messaging for the Continued Success of Accolade

“Healthcare should involve conversations with people we trust. In the past, that was the doctor we knew in our community, who knew our families, our context, our barriers. Accolade aspires to be an extension of our community: we give families a dedicated person they can talk to. In the past we relied on the phone to do that and now we’ve expanded that relationship to mobile messaging. Layer is helping Accolade create the right conversation experience for mobile.”—Ben Hackett, Director of Product for Mobile at Accolade

There are three main advantages Accolade sees in adopting Layer as their messaging platform:

Speed to Market: Accolade has been able to achieve HIPAA-compliant messaging without spending months or years developing conversation infrastructure.

– Rich Functionality, a.k.a. Mini Apps: The messaging experience isn’t just a list of text messages. Rather, Accolade’s “mini apps” are rich content that both members and advisors can drop into conversations. The mini apps today provide functionality such as secure document sharing, and future iterations of the app will include doctor recommendations and claims. Having all of this information within the context of the advisor-member conversation makes it easier and more efficient to drive positive outcomes.

– Leveraging Ongoing Data Collection: Accolade already has a sophisticated machine learning and data science team responsible for building its Maya Intelligence Engine. By using Layer to power the member-advisor conversation on mobile, Accolade is able to give Maya a continuous stream of structure healthcare and interaction data to learn from, which drives greater personalization and better outcomes both for consumers and employers.

“Accolade is another example of a pioneering Layer customer transforming an industry with a relationship-first approach, using the mobile-native UX. With their own mobile innovations combined with Layer messaging — Accolade is taking their service to the next level.”—Ron Palmeri, Layer CEO.

If you want to learn more about how Layer can help you integrate customer conversations into your digital experiences, contact us today for a free demo of the platform.