Firefly Health and Innovation in Primary Care

When you hear the phrase “technology in healthcare”, you probably think of the most cutting-edge, newsworthy innovations. Robotics, genomic sequencing, and artificial intelligence are a few that come to mind. Biomedicine in the U.S. is forging ahead and creating exciting new solutions to conditions and maladies once thought impossible to treat.

While these developments are undoubtedly promising, we aren’t seeing technology make quite the same impact being in every day medicine. Despite recent innovations, American healthcare is wildly inefficient, with astronomical costs and outcomes that are less than satisfactory. According to the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker, healthcare expenditure per capita in the U.S. is about $10,348, roughly double what other developed countries spend, and yet we have some the worst clinical outcomes. Another study found that just 4-7% of U.S. healthcare dollars are spent on primary care.

This hasn’t translated to a better patient experience. In a survey conducted by ZocDoc, 80% of people said they delayed or swore off preventive care. The same survey found that nine out of ten Millennials chose not to schedule medical appointments. The rationale behind avoiding the doctor is nuanced to each individual, but there are a few consistent themes: high costs, time constraints, and negative experiences in the past. A trip to the doctor seems just as inaccessible, inconvenient, and expensive as ever.

In this episode, we sit down for a fascinating conversation with a physician attempting to address America’s healthcare inefficiency problem with everyday technology. Andy Ellner, a founding co-director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Primary Care and director of HMS’s Program in Primary and Social Change, is also a primary care physician, a PCP Board Member, and the CEO and Co-founder of Firefly Health. The healthcare startup is a culmination of Andy’s background and expertise, a platform that uses technology and data to help increase the efficiency and productivity of doctor-patient interactions. Firefly Health’s model is designed to help doctors focus on the medicine and provide patients with remote access to the support they need quickly. Andy comes from a family of physicians and has vast experience observing and working in healthcare abroad, giving him a global perspective to address issues facing primary care in America today.

Listen to this installment of Relational Rounds to find out how Andy and Firefly Health wants to ensure technology supports — not replace — the doctor-patient relationship in healthcare.

Primary Care Progress

Founded in 2010, Primary Care Progress is a national organization committed to building stronger primary care teams. Working with current and future healthcare professionals from across disciplines and career stages – from students and faculty to providers and health systems leaders – we offer leadership development and support that emphasizes relational skills, individual resiliency, and advocacy. By providing the resources and community necessary to excel, we’re strengthening the teams at the heart of primary care, ultimately leading to sustainable models of care and better health for all.

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