Salesforce.com is rolling out a new tool as part of its Health Cloud platform to help hospitals and insurers spot environmental and social issues that can affect a person’s health, like income or access to transportation, to connect patients with more services.
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There is growing emphasis in health care to try to address economic issues at home that can impact patients’ health conditions, so-called social determinants of health, like inadequate nutrition or a lack of transportation to get to doctor’s appointments.
“For many of our customers, we have been capturing this data,” said Salesforce.com chief medical officer Dr. Joshua Newman. “We have some very early implementations with some large academic centers that are really focused on the exact populations that we all know have the biggest health needs.”
Newman said Salesforce has taken data collected by other companies and created an application that makes it “easy to use … so that a hospital, a home health agency or chronic care company … can use this” and coordinate with one another.
The firm’s push into helping health companies that offer social determinant services follows moves by Lyft and Uber to provide rides to doctors’ appointments over the last year. Both ride-hailing firms have launched health transportation services, partnering with physician groups, health systems and insurers to provide transportation for patients who have limited access to it.
Salesforce launched its Health Cloud platform in 2015, first providing doctors and health systems with patient engagement management tools, then adding a platform for health insurers last year. The company says it has more than 180 health partners, but executives admit that the initiative has taken time.
“Health Cloud got off to a slower start, but has gained a lot of momentum,” co-CEO Keith Block said at the Credit Suisse Technology, Media and Telecom conference last November. “We’ve seen some great success over the last six months.”
Tech giants have placed increasing bets on growing their exposure to the $3.5 trillion health-care economy.
Last November, Amazon Web Services announced a new software offering that could mine patient health records for key data points, in a challenge to the dominance of UnitedHealth’s Optum and IBM’s Watson Health in the health-data analysis sector.
Salesforce’s latest health offering also includes a field service mobile platform which will allows organizations working together to coordinate home care and input health record information on the same platform.
The company announced the new health cloud programs at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference, which kicked off Monday morning in Orlando, Florida.