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Insights from Activate2018: How Data and Conversational AI Drive Behavior Change

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Insights from Activate2018: How Data and Conversational AI Drive Behavior Change

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Activate2018 was mPulse’s second industry event focused on leading strategies and mobile programs to drive healthy behavior change. Over 100 attendees from 44 companies attended the event to engage with industry thought leaders and innovative healthcare executives that are leveraging Conversational AI capabilities to drive behavior change across their populations.

Using Technology to Promote Healthcare Data Accessibility

Aneesh Chopra, former Chief Technology Officer of the United States and President of Care Journey, gave a powerful keynote address focused on how to achieve a lower cost, higher quality healthcare system through technology innovation, open data and consumer activation. He highlighted that success in improving healthcare can only be achieved through consumers taking a more active role in navigating the health delivery system. But to do this they need to be empowered with greater access to their own data to help them make better decisions at each stage of their health journey.

Chopra stressed the importance of developing API-based interop standards similar to those that have proven effective in other industries (such as the banking industry) as a way to drive innovation and more consumer-centric solutions. He used the CMS Blue Button 2.0 initiative as an example, highlighting CMS’s widely expected requirement for Medicare Advantage plans to adopt data release platforms “meet or exceed” the capabilities of Blue Button 2.0 FHIR API by 2020. He also discussed the importance of cultural shifts in addition to technology advancements. Weaving together technical expertise with rich anecdotes, Chopra painted an inspirational view for healthcare’s path forward.

Activation in Action

In a panel of mPulse customers sharing their stories of successful behavior change, Kaiser Permanente and Home State Health presented the results of their Conversational AI programs. They were joined by Rena Brar Prayaga, mPulse’s lead Behavioral Data Scientist, who provided further detail on how the programs were optimized to impact behavior change.

Dr. William Woo, Assistant Chief Family Medicine at Kaiser Permanente, shared how he is using mPulse’s Conversational AI capabilities for his Diabetes Self-Management program to drive healthy behavior change and improve maintenance of A1c control in his diabetic population. Dr. Woo demonstrated the importance of understanding the specific challenges and health needs faced by individuals, and using these insights to tailor the most appropriate dialogues to educate, motivate and drive change. During the Kaiser Permanente program, more than 276,000 dialogues were sent to 11,238 members over a six-month period. Leveraging a broad range of data inputs from Kaiser Permanente’s system information and patient-generated data, these dialogues were dynamically tailored to advance the consumer’s health activation levels. The program achieved a significant improvement in A1c control. Commenting on the results, Dr. Woo spoke to the efficiency of the program and how it freed up his care team’s resources to focus on higher risk segments of his patient population.

Andrew Dietrich, Director of Telehealth Services at Home State Health, walked through the sophisticated health engagement program that he deployed to engage his diverse Medicaid population. Home State Health covers over 250,000 lives, of which 85% are <18 years old, and over 95% are in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Dietrich discussed the need to engage members across a broad range of health topics including care gaps, healthy living, pregnancy, plan services, finding a PCP, redetermination and ED avoidance among many others. Historically, the plan had used mailers and phone outreach to address only the most pressing of these topics. Home State Health partnered with mPulse to develop a library of content dialogues covering all potential health topics and use mPulse’s Conversational AI solution to assign those dialogues to each member based on a dynamic profile of their preferences, health status, previous engagement and Home State Health’s priorities. In addition to delivering over 240,000 dialogues to 17,208 members over a 12-month period, Dietrich highlighted the program’s impact on key quality measures—members that participated in the health engagement program had significantly higher Well-Child and Adolescent Well-Care visit rates.

A recording of the complete panel can be viewed here.

Technology Overview

Ram Prayaga, mPulse’s Chief Technology Officer, presented on the direction of mPulse’s Conversational AI capabilities. He spoke to three key themes: Data, Growth and Empathy.

The importance of data was a consistent theme throughout the event. Driving behavior change requires a deep understanding of individuals’ socioeconomic environment and the psychographic factors that influence their behaviors. Some of these insights are sourced from customer information systems. For example, a zip code yields rich data about Community Need and key Social Determinants of Health factors. However, almost all psychographic factors have to come directly from the consumer. Prayaga spoke to how these complex data points can be sourced directly through conversational interactions.

The second theme, Growth, covered the necessary capabilities to deliver Conversational AI solutions at scale. Obviously, a basic requirement is the ability to handle large volumes of concurrent dialogues. However, Growth also describes mPulse’s expanded solution offering to address additional health challenges, new segments of the population and international languages. As many of mPulse’s solutions leverage Natural Language Understanding (NLU), Growth requires building out new language domains to support new engagement areas and deepening conversational capabilities to have more meaningful dialogues. These capabilities support Prayaga’s third area of focus, Empathy.

Empathy, describes the ability to understand consumers, their health situations and engage with them in a way that provides the support they need. Prayaga highlighted the importance of empathetic solutions, particularly when engaging diverse populations segments. He used the examples of senior populations and how they like to engage, which is very different from millennials. Empathy enables mPulse to engage with these members as individuals in a way that minimizes abrasion and contributes significantly to the consumer experience.

Customer Perspectives on Implementation

In the second customer panel, The Milestones of Implementing Mobile Health Engagement Solutions, leaders from Cambia Health Solutions, Trusted Health Plan, Healogics and Healthx presented on their mobile health engagement programs and the milestones they each experienced over the first 12-18 month period to demonstrate key learnings for the audience. Each speaker walked through how their program was developed to address key engagement challenges, and their unique approach to drive success.

Michael Novotny, Technical Product Manager at Healogics, provided an excellent example of rolling out a major health engagement initiative across multiple sites and how they focused on success to identify best practices, as well as identify program champions. It was key to the success of their implementation, as their operation includes over 800 clinics.

In contrast, Jason Thomas, Director of Corporate Facilities and Special Projects at Trusted Health Plan, focused on identifying their biggest engagement pain points. In their case, a significant proportion of members lost coverage as a result of not completing the necessary redetermination process. Lost coverage impacted members’ ability to get care, and also added significant administrative costs to get the member re-enrolled. The text program drove a significant improvement in redetermination rates. This validated the effectiveness of the text channel, which helped expand programs into other engagement areas.

As a leader in a large complex healthcare organization, Lynn Dusek, Director of Consumer Relationship Marketing at Cambia Health Solutions, talked about the importance of internal alignment. In her role it is critical to coordinate the mobile health engagement strategies across multiple departmental stakeholders. A key milestone for her program was establishing the necessary program governance processes to enable coordination of consumer engagement initiatives from multiple departments.

The final presentation was by Mike Rowe, CTO of Healthx. Their partnership with mPulse focuses on providing mobile solutions that fully integrate with their core portal capabilities to drive true consumer engagement. In his presentation, he stressed the importance of data; both understanding in detail what data is available and leveraging the data in a way that allows micro-segmentation and orchestration best practices for member engagement.

A recording of the complete panel can be viewed here.

Activate Awards

In closing Activate2018, mPulse’s CEO Chris Nicholson announced the winners of the inaugural Activate Awards. Designed to recognize key areas of program impact and innovation, the awards recognized 4 categories to which companies had submitted applications prior to the event.

The winners were:

  • Home State Health: Most Innovative Program
  • Docent Health: Most Improved Consumer Experience
  • Kaiser Permanente: Best Use of Conversational AI
  • Healogics and Ieso Health (joint winners): Most Significant Outcome

The awards demonstrated the impact health activation can have on key health outcomes and how successful programs enable healthcare organizations to achieve key business outcomes. As well as demonstrating leadership in the space, these organizations set the benchmark for some healthy competition at Activate2019.

For details, read the press release.


A key theme of Activate2018 was the importance of data for successful behavior change programs. By using real-life examples of Conversational AI behavior change programs, the event highlighted how both source system data and patient-generated data are integral to the success of solutions. Discussions around these themes clearly established that open data sharing between healthcare organizations and technology companies such as mPulse and engaging consumers in a way that empowers them to share their health needs are fundamental requirements for successful health activation at scale.

Patient activation is critical to improve health outcomes and take costs out of the system. mPulse’s Activate series of events (look out for ActivateX and Activate2019 later this year) is unique in bringing together thought leadership in behavior change approaches and innovative mobile technologies to illustrate how organizations can achieve health activation at scale.

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