Icario is bringing a voice to the data behind healthcare experiences

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voice calls on Twilio in 2021 (estimated)

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improvement in answering machine detection and reliability

While there are benefits to using technology to improve healthcare experiences, a push for innovation often leaves out those who aren’t as digitally inclined, those who don’t have access to certain technology, or even those who prefer more traditional communication methods.

Healthcare should be for everyone. Icario (previously Revel + NovuHealth) is making that possible by supporting healthcare organizations with their health action platform, Icario Connect, to survey, engage, and motivate health plan members to take control of their own health with the communication channel that’s right for them.

Icario brings together behavioral research, data science, and their multi-channel platform to deliver personalization at scale. They use SMS, email, snail mail, and voice outreach to engage and motivate members to take specific health actions to improve their health. The idea being, if you can engage people about their health when and how they prefer, it’s not just better for the individual and their personal health outcomes, but for the entire healthcare ecosystem.

“We’re doing what retail is really good at, in the sense of engaging people. We’re using a lot of the same tactics, demographic information, and machine learning, but we’re doing it to motivate people to be healthier, and we’re using multiple communication channels to amplify the call to action. That benefits the member and the health plan,” Icario Chief Architect Chris Bjugstad said.

Giving a voice to the underserved

And while many healthcare platforms are going deeper into how to integrate SMS and video into the member experience, Icario is also continuing to focus on members who might not be as comfortable or even have access to this type of technology. With much of their customer base in the government healthcare space, this means continuing to lean into what IVR (interactive voice response) provides their customers.

“We work a lot with Medicare populations, and we’ve realized that many of the people in these programs still want to pick up the phone on a day-to-day basis. If I see a number I don’t recognize, I likely won’t pick it up, but this demographic still seems to prefer it over other means such as responding to SMS,” Icario Senior Vice President of Technology Scib Ebel said.

Icario was already using Twilio for text messaging when they began to realize the opportunities of integrating a more seamless IVR system into their platform, using Twilios’ voice support to replace a prior IVR vendor that wasn’t scaling at the pace they needed.

“Because what we do is tightly orchestrated around different channels working together, having a developer-friendly API and competent platform allows us to innovate new and creative ways to orchestrate outreach. It makes us much more effective than having say, three older commodity vendors that do only one thing,” Bjugstad said.
Within three weeks, Icario had a working voice platform prototype using Twilio Programmable Voice.

Talking the talk

Icario’s voice platform helps the company connect everyone to better health, regardless of demographic. Now, with its suite of communication channels, Icario can be even more intelligent about how it uses member data to identify the right message, the right channel, and the right time—and communicate accordingly.

“Each member might have a different contact path based on the channels that they offer us, but they all have the potential to get a number of contact points—email, SMS, voice, and mail. In some cases, we will elevate to an outbound live agent who will call them and offer a more personal experience. If there’s a way to talk to them, we will,” Bjugstad explained.

For example, if someone indicates they have diabetes and provides their preferred contact method, they may be put into a member journey that focuses on the risks of diabetes and be provided opportunities to reach out to specialists to manage their condition accordingly.

Now, regardless of communication channel, a member can receive anything from basic informational content to a more interactive health assessment. Upon completing the assessment, Icario evaluates the responses and creates personalized health action plans to support unique member needs.

From there, they use a combination of behavioral research and machine learning to determine how to reach other hard-to-reach members.

“Let’s say we have a member who ignores our digital outreach but always responds to a phone call. Now, we’re just going to call them right away. We try to build that into the platform, so we can automate those decisions. It gives us the ability to serve these ever-growing populations without having to scale the size of our teams,” Bjugstad said.

A later conversation

The future of healthcare is not just about integrating with the latest technology, but also using the latest technology to be more autonomous and more inclusive.

Giving healthcare organizations the tools to reach out to members in a way that is comfortable for them, and then giving members more autonomy over their own health is the long game. And it is partnerships like Icario and Twilio’s that showcase where the potential for this particular type of healthcare innovation can lead.

“Today, we’re very focused on driving health action digitally, but in the future, we could take it a step further and make an immediate connection to a live health care professional on whatever medium that individual is on. So not just scheduling an appointment but actually connecting them directly, right then and there. That’s something I’m looking forward to,” Ebel said.


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