The dedicated people at Solera Health believe that no one has to fall prey to chronic illnesses, and they’ve taken aim at type 2 diabetes. To help the US population embrace the healthy lifestyle choices that can help them avoid the disease, the Phoenix, Arizona–based integrated benefit network has created an innovative solution: a comprehensive network connecting health plans, healthcare providers, diabetes prevention programs (DPPs), and patients. The result? Happier, healthier individuals and communities all over the United States, lower reimbursement costs for insurers, and falling healthcare expenditures overall. Their catalyst for the innovative solution was Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure.
Forging a new path for preventative care
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, costing the country $245 billion every year. Solera Health Chief Executive Officer Brenda Schmidt wanted to change those grim statistics. She saw a gap between the highly effective community prevention organizations that typically deliver low-cost, high-value outcomes and the insurers that aim to connect patients with best-fit prevention programs. Drawing on her deep background in healthcare IT, in 2015 she formed Solera Health, a service that connects insurers, patients, and community-based prevention programs. Now a company of more than 100 workers, Solera Health is disrupting healthcare in the best possible way, solving the need for aggregating and analyzing patient data and connecting patients to the most effective resources with its groundbreaking network platform.
Approximately 1,700 DPP organizations dot the US map, covering a patchwork of geographies and populations. Health plans recognize that prevention is key to better serving patients and lowering healthcare costs. But identifying patients at risk and connecting them with the DPP that meets each patient’s needs and preferences in their geographic area is complex and expensive. Community-based, nonclinical diabetes prevention programs frequently represent the most effective options for helping people make the changes they need to avoid chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes. However, these organizations are historically funded through grants and donations and are ill-equipped to meet the data security requirements necessary to obtain reimbursement from health plans. Enter Solera Health, with its safeguarded data aggregation platform and extensive DPP network—a new curated marketplace for diabetes prevention services.
Crafting a springboard for a modern workplace
For Solera Health Vice President of Technology Dan Hurley, creating a disruptive innovation begins with a leading-edge paradigm for the company’s workers. “We foster an agile, flexible culture,” he says. “At Solera, it doesn’t matter where we work. That’s the whole point of our Office 365 and Azure adoption.” This cloud-based environment involves such easy deployment and management that Hurley’s 35-person IT team has no trouble supporting nationally distributed employees. Everyone has a Microsoft Surface device and an Office 365 license. Hurley finds the flexibility of Microsoft licensing perfect for a rapidly growing startup. “We grew very fast,” he says. “The Microsoft pay-as-you-go approach is the best licensing model I have ever experienced in my 30-plus years in IT.”
Employees use Office 365 productivity tools like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint along with Skype for Business to work together online with colleagues all over the country. Hurley created a new approach for external collaboration with insurers and DPPs using the Phone System feature in Office 365 (Cloud PBX) and Skype for Business for private branch exchange (PBX) capabilities. Materials are easily shared visually in real time during Skype for Business calls, and customer contact data is contained within the Solera ecosystem. “We don’t use office phones anymore,” he says. “Instead, we assign everyone on the Solera team a Cloud PBX number anywhere in the country. If any customer-facing staff members leave Solera, we retain all their customer contact data.”
The company even designed the physical office space at its headquarters to promote collaboration. Rather than rows of cubicles and desks, clusters of tables form landing spaces for staff members who move fluidly among teams as their collaborative needs dictate. A network of remote marketing reps equipped with the same mobility-ready Surface devices are scattered across the United States. “Our modern physical and virtual workspaces support our ethos of cross-team collaboration,” says Hurley. “Finance people interface with our development team, our own marketing people, and our network partners. By using Office 365 cloud-based tools to work in a connected way, we’re constantly improving our product and processes.”