Most of Chris Turner’s career is steeped in healthcare, having worked for companies such as Healthgrades, Evariant, and Medici. His latest challenge as CEO of HealthBook+ is twofold: Provide a way for individuals to aggregate and leverage their personal health information safely and securely for health guidance and give employers predictive insights to help their staff get to their best health.
Turner said he came up with the idea for HealthBook+ with Co-founders Stathis Topouzoglou, who owns a shipping company, and Dr. Panos Sechopoulos, who became the company’s Chief Medical Officer.
In the shipping world, if a crew member gets sick, it can be very costly for the company to return the ship to shore to attend to them. Adding to the medical challenge is that commonly there is a language barrier between a captain and their crew. What Stathis needed was a way to ensure crew members received personalized and appropriate healthcare while at the same time avoiding unnecessary shipping delays. The solution, Turner soon realized, was to tap into a personalized medicine approach developed by Dr. Sechopoulos. It ensured each member of the crew had a portable medical history on their mobile phone as well as AI that could detect the triage level and give a list of possible conditions that could be easily shared if the crew member became ill at sea. Not only would they be provided with prompt treatment directed by a physician, but the company would mitigate additional costs resulting from delays and disruption.
Turner explained how the core of HealthBook+ technology is set up. It uses a very secure and private database which connects with companies managing about 85% of the electronic health records in the U.S. That data ports over into its data warehouse and is augmented with other sources of data, which includes claims data obtained through relationships with 40% of the commercial payers. It also obtains data through wearables from Apple Health, Google Health, Fitbit, Garmin and glucose monitors, with potential to add an additional 500 remote patient monitoring devices. Turner added that the company also purchases socio-economic data and is working on adding genetic information.
“If we take this as the core, and then add a bunch of different data sets so that we have the most data on an individual, layer some AI-driven predictive analytics and inference engines on top of that data, then we would have something that is really cool,” Turner said. “We can help people take ownership of their health by leveraging all the data that is available, as well as AI tools, so that people could understand what the next step in their healthcare journey needs to be.”
But the benefits go beyond just the individual. Employers are also helped by HealthBook+’s technology, particularly those who face substantial insurance claims due to employees’ cancer diagnosis or treatment for other costly health conditions, which, cause their plan rates to increase.
“What we’re able to do is work with the de-identified and aggregated employee population data and then help employers negotiate with their plan for a better premium,” said Turner. “For all employers we can leverage these population sets of data to identify the best benefits specific to an employer’s staff.”
HealthBook+ has two sets of AI engines — one focused on preventive care and another on reactive care.
The preventive engine deploys models around the most expensive and debilitating conditions for employers, spanning mental health, diabetes, heart disease, and high-risk pregnancy. The idea is to provide a way for users to receive earlier intervention and then help direct them to an in-network primary care physician or a specialist, if needed.
The reactive AI-driven engine is for acute care situations with the goal of directing people to the appropriate level of care. The app’s interface provides a way for users to enter their symptoms for an instant health check. The AI engine will ask a set of questions based on the symptom information provided and then provide a shortlist of possible conditions and where they can get in-network help.
Turner offered an example of a success story with the instant health check. A young male in his mid-thirties and 6 ‘6″-6’ 7″ tall experienced pelvic pain and went to the emergency room nine different times, including three by ambulance. Clinicians kept telling him he had prostatitis — an infection of the prostate — and he was not getting better. He started losing his hair and in four months lost about 20% of his body weight. Using the instant health check, he entered his symptoms, and because the app already had his health history, he was able to get a personalized list of possible conditions to share with his team of clinicians.
“In bringing these two sets of data together, the AI engine concluded that it was likely a kidney-related issue,” Turner said. “That led physicians to perform a pelvic MRI, and he was diagnosed with a blocked urethra, which was causing his kidneys to swell to 50% larger than they should be. That’s what was causing all the pain and discomfort, so he ended up having a couple surgeries and he’s now on the mend.”
Turner added: “With the differential diagnosis alone, we’ve identified about a 40% reduction in people who said they were set to go to the emergency room and the AI determined their care level should be telehealth or primary care, so they made the conversion to the more appropriate care level. The instant health check combined with telemedicine is a perfect way to reduce costs for patients, employers and payers while improving access to care. It is about a $1,800 savings per occurrence for employers and payers just even in that one component alone.”
Turner has an ambitious outlook for the company. Asked what’s on his to do list for the next 12 months, Turner highlighted some of the goals. One is to further leverage the company’s Medical Advisory Board to improve the service’s accuracy and personalization. In January, HealthBook+ will be launching its Care Club+ which helps people manage care of their children and parents. HealthBook+ is also expanding its partnerships and adding an API gateway to realize its goal of providing a health hub that streamlines an individual’s access to digital health tools and clinicians.
“If people go to multiple hospitals, they’ve got maybe two or three different patient portals they need to log into. When they go to clinics, each one of those typically has a different patient portal,” Turner said. “Their health plan has a different patient portal, and if they have a wearable that data lives somewhere else. If the employer sponsors any digital health applications, all that data is also somewhere else. We want to be that hub for access to all this healthcare data.”