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AiThority Interview with John Erwin, Chief Executive Officer at Carenet Health

John Erwin, Chief Executive Officer at Carenet Health

Hi, John. Welcome to our Interview Series. Please tell us a little bit about your journey and what inspired you to start Carenet Health.

Prior to the beginning of my time at Carenet Health, I worked at West Corporation, founding and then leading their consumer engagement division for 15 years. I then acquired Carenet Health in 2004 with the desire to introduce consumer engagement into healthcare. My vision was to bring technology expertise to the healthcare industry so that healthcare companies would have choices for what their services would look like. Since starting my journey with Carenet Health 18 years ago, care delivery has evolved exponentially and so have our service offerings.

What is Carenet Health, and what are your core offerings?

Carenet Health, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, offers the most comprehensive healthcare consumer engagement solutions in the market, with a special focus on revenue optimization, cost containment, and access to care. Partnering with premier healthcare companies to realize their potential​, we are designing scalable solutions to engage and activate patients to achieve improved health outcomes and increase profitability for providers, payers, and partners. We offer member and patient engagement, clinical support, virtual care, online scheduling, and advocacy solutions for our stakeholders.

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What role will Skip Hanson and Lisa Taylor play in Carenet’s strategy following the recent acquisition of Stericycle Communication Solutions?

This is an exciting and transformative time for Carenet Health. Skip Hanson, our new executive vice president of service delivery, and Lisa Taylor, our new vice president of market development, will oversee the strategic transition related to Stericycle Communication Solutions’ technology and offerings into the wider Carenet organization. Both Hansen and Taylor have extensive experience in C-suite level positions which will allow them to successfully guide the integration of the two companies. Our recent acquisition of Stericycle Communication Solutions will enable us to recharacterize what patients can expect their healthcare experiences to be. With the acquisition, Carenet now provides one in three Americans access to our offerings and works with 14 of the top 20 health systems in the U.S.

How do you use big data for intelligent healthcare engagement? What is the role of Big Data analytics in building a sustainable future in the telehealth industry?

Working with over 1,000 customers including healthcare insurers, healthcare partners, and healthcare providers, we have approximately 370,000 customer interactions each day and over 135 million annually. This uniquely positions us to acquire massive amounts of data and benefit from its utilization. We are constantly in contact with clinical teams, using Big Data to inform our clients’ patient journeys and ensure that they are as uniform as possible, only circumstantially variable to ensure the correct care plan and channel of care.

As for the future: on the one hand, Big Data will provide us with great insights into what’s wrong or missing within a health system. On the other hand, the component of sharing bulletproof, actionable insights isn’t yet at the final stage.

Please tell us about the major milestones you managed to achieve in 2022.

In 2022, Carenet experienced tremendous growth and development across the company. We expanded our leadership team through the hiring of Christopher Rogers as our new chief operating officer to oversee combined operations and client service organizations. We’ve focused on growth – both internally and externally. Within our company, we focused on our greatest resource, our employees, and now have a team of over 2,200 throughout the organization, including over 330 RN and licensed healthcare professionals. Building a workforce is critical, both in scaling our business capabilities and for broadening our services across the healthcare industry. Externally, we acquired Stericycle Communication Solutions to expand our offerings and become the leader in end-to-end patient engagement.

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You support more than 86 million consumers. Please tell us more about the customer segments that you are currently targeting and how you intend to grow your business in 2023.

Our primary focus is on the patient. Patients are at the center of what Carenet Health is about, and it is our goal to provide the best possible experience for them. As we work with healthcare insurers, healthcare providers, and healthcare partners, we reach a wide consumer population through our customers. Through our over 100 health plan partners, we bring over 30 years of expertise to our partner’s Medicare and Medicaid patient populations. We also work with employers to support their employees though our custom, leading-edge engagement solutions. Lastly, we work directly with providers- including health systems, independent practice associations, accountable care organizations, and medical groups- to provide the highest-quality of clinical and non-clinical consumer support.

With our current offerings, like access to Carenet Health’s CX Analytics Group, and adding ComSol’s solutions, like online scheduling platform InQuicker, our goals for 2023 have shifted. Looking forward to the rest of 2023, we’re focused on creating a cohesive team throughout our transition, expanding our product offerings, and deepening our partnerships with augmented capabilities.

What is the future of virtual patient care? What kind of IT infrastructure would a healthcare company need to benefit from your services?

Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of virtual patient care. As patients get more comfortable with this format of care, as well as accustomed to its convenience, I see a future where a majority of the patient population will view in-person care as unnecessary in many cases. I foresee younger generations receiving the bulk of their care this way–tests and lab orders delivered same-day to their homes with a meaningful physician consultation conducted online. I see potential for care delivery even inside of patients’ electronic medical records, as long as the patient and the provider are in alignment about their care journey.

What are the key challenges that healthcare companies face in the AI era? How does a company like Carenet benefit the industry?

One challenge, especially for providers, is finding an enterprise solution, or solutions, that not only meets but exceeds their needs; one that provides the point solutions that they didn’t know they needed. Through the integration of tools like InQuicker, we are able to expand our reach to more demographics and serve our ultimate focus of health access and equity. Through strategic acquisitions and new hires, we are creating a robust company with all of the offerings a health system could need.

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Thank you, John! That was fun and we hope to see you back on soon.

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Driven by his entrepreneurial spirit, John was part of the original investment team that acquired Carenet in 2004. He brought with him a vision of helping the healthcare industry deliver exceptional member and patient experiences that ultimately improve care, outcomes and costs. John is an innovator in the field of healthcare consumer influence and has grown Carenet Health to be a leading healthcare engagement, clinical, telehealth and advocacy solutions provider supporting 50 million consumers annually. He has received a number of national awards, including the EY Entrepreneur of the Year. His work in improving healthcare engagement includes partnering closely with the leadership of more than 100 of the nation’s premier health plans. Prior to Carenet, John created West Corporation Outbound in San Antonio, Texas. The company quickly became a market leader.

Carenet Health Logo

Carenet Health is the industry’s leading healthcare consumer engagement company, providing member and patient engagement, clinical support, virtual care, online scheduling, and advocacy solutions for providers, payers, and partners. One in three Americans have access to Carenet’s services. The global company is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas.

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