Case Studies

Unity Health Saves up to $150K, Optimizing the Care Experience With PocketHealth

The Challenge

CDs were impacting Unity Health’s mission to provide high quality care experiences and adding friction to organizational workflows.

Unity Health’s mission is focused on providing excellent and inclusive care experiences. In 2018 the hospital network launched its Care Experience Charter which puts the patient at the forefront of its organizational practices. Yet for Dawn-Marie King, Senior Director of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Imaging at Unity Health, CDs were a barrier to providing an optimal patient experience.

“We’re a trauma site and so we often get patients coming in at all hours. Staff had to burn CDs after hours, walk the CD down to the emergency department and hand it off to a member of staff to then release it to the patient,” describes King. The patient, who was undergoing a traumatic medical event, was then responsible for keeping track of that CD and transporting it to any follow-up appointments.

CDs were also complicating staff workflows and taking up valuable resources. For example, at one of Unity Health’s sites there were three staff working in their film library, burning CDs and handling films and processing. Staff also had to manage mailing out CDs and ensuring they got to the right person. All of these manual workflows were taking a toll in terms of both time and costs.

“We didn’t have to try and find capital dollars. And it’s just been a huge benefit from both a patient and organization perspective.”

Dawn-Marie King, Senior Director of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Imaging at Unity Health

The Solution

PocketHealth’s patient and provider-sharing capabilities and lightweight design enabled Unity Health to go completely digital while minimizing change management.

In 2018, Unity Health adopted PocketHealth for Patients at its St. Michael’s Hospital site, followed quickly by its St. Joseph’s Health Centre site. The digital platform eliminated the need to burn CDs for patients — and came at no cost to the provider.

As a publicly funded hospital network, a key benefit of PocketHealth was the shared cost model with patients. “We didn’t have to try and find capital dollars, which is really, really hard to do in the healthcare system,” says King. “It was a lot less expensive to implement. And it’s just been a huge benefit from both a patient and organization perspective.”

Patients pay a $5 fee for permanent ownership over their imaging, which they can access and share anytime, right from the comfort of their home. This fee is a small one compared to what it was costing patients to travel back to the hospital, pay for parking or transit, and pick up a CD, the contents of which wasn’t even accessible to them. Plus they had to keep track of that CD. With PocketHealth, their imaging and diagnostic reports are all in one place, accessible by any device.

By 2019 the hospital network expanded its use to PocketHealth for Providers across both facilities to take advantage of PocketHealth’s provider-sharing capabilities.

PocketHealth worked closely with Unity Health’s IT and PACS teams to integrate the platform with internal workflows and minimize any added friction or change management. They created custom training materials and communication assets for the Unity Health team. The PocketHealth support team handles all patient inquiries and the company also regularly provides Unity Health with different kinds of patient feedback to show them how patients are engaging with the platform. The hospital network’s high patient adoption rates reflect the value patients are finding now that they can access their imaging online.

When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, Unity Health was well prepared to easily and securely share medical imaging and diagnostics reports digitally with patients and other providers, eliminating non-essential patient visits to pick up CDs.

“It’s a simple solution to a problem that no one else is solving. And PocketHealth is solving it in a very minimal way.”

Dawn-Marie King, Senior Director of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Imaging at Unity Health

The Results

With PocketHealth, Unity Health has generated annual savings of $120,000-$150,000 while also empowering patients with ownership over their imaging and diagnostic reports.

With PocketHealth’s help, King estimates they’ve saved $120,000-$150,000 in annual costs. Since implementing PocketHealth they’ve closed the film library and re-purposed the space into an interventional and neuro angio suite. They’ve moved those staff members who were working in the film library to the front desk. There’s also peace of mind knowing that the right imaging is getting to the right patient with PocketHealth’s audit trail, without worrying about CDs getting lost in the mail and patients’ personal health information being exposed.

For King, who has almost 20 years of experience in healthcare management, the key to PocketHealth’s successful implementation at Unity Health is its simplicity. “It’s a simple solution to a problem that no one else is solving. And they are solving it in a very minimal way when it comes to interfacing with PACS systems,” says King. “There isn’t a lot of backend work that needs to be done.”

King labels PocketHealth’s patient-friendly and lightweight design a “no-brainer” and credits its smart design to the company’s focus on using provider and patient feedback to shape its product roadmap. “I see a lot of companies that fully develop these products that they think are great, but they miss the mark a little bit,” she says. “If they were going out and speaking to customers like PocketHealth does, they could make sure they’re building the right thing.”