Health Dialog is full of devoted employees committed to our mission of helping clients improve population health, reduce costs, and engage patients to make the best decisions about their health. In this series, we spotlight the hard-working healthcare professionals who help us realize that mission each and every day.
Meet Ryan Croteau: An 11-year veteran of Health Dialog, Ryan works side-by-side with our clients to launch population health management and patient engagement programs.
What do you do at Health Dialog?
As a Director of Client Services, I work with Health Dialog’s health plan and provider clients to launch programs focused on delivering health education and support to members. My job is to ensure the launch of successful programs that achieve our clients’ clinical and financial goals.
When working directly with clients, what types of questions do they ask most?
One question I get asked a lot is “how do I get the people who would benefit from your services to participate?” Increasing awareness of the program is really half the battle. What I’ve seen, time and time again, is that people truly appreciate the benefits of our programs. When they know about our services, and understand the value of them, people participate.
And the value to patients is clear. If you have a sick child at 2am and nowhere to turn to for help, having immediate access to an experienced nurse is a much better (and often less stressful) solution than trying to Google symptoms and causes. As another example, if you just got diagnosed with diabetes and you’re worried and confused about what to do, an experienced nurse on the other side of the phone who can guide you on how to take care of yourself can be a really welcome partner.
Increasing program awareness generally starts with a solid promotional plan but the clients who are most successful are those that integrate Health Dialog’s program with their other service offerings. A seamless experience from one service to the next is the best way to get patients engaged.
Another question I get asked a lot is, “How can I help my organization better engage our high-risk patients?” Recently, one of our health plan clients was challenged with managing a high-risk diabetes population that was, historically, unwilling to engage. They needed our help with designing a program that could demonstrate measurable results to their employer group client. To help the plan improve population health and reduce overall costs for this employer, we helped them launch a highly-customized diabetes management program that used incentives to increase patient engagement. After launch, we were able to demonstrate to the employer group that the members in this program, who initially engaged with our health coaching services because of the incentive, eventually began taking care of themselves. We actually measured an uptick in eyes exams, A1c tests, and other diabetes management services. Our coaches, who are trained in customer service and behavior-change techniques, were highly successful in engaging these patients and educating them on the value and importance of these preventive services.
“No matter the type or size of the organization, the geographic region, or the demographics of the population, one of the biggest challenges I see our clients face is how to manage costs without sacrificing member satisfaction and overall well-being.”
When it comes to population health management, what’s the number one challenge clients face?
No matter the type or size of the organization, the geographic region, or the demographics of the population, one of the biggest challenges I see our clients face is how to manage costs without sacrificing member satisfaction and overall well-being. Sometimes a surgery isn’t avoidable, but sometimes there can be other clinically-acceptable options that patients aren’t aware of. In many other instances, an urgent care visit, telemedicine session, or home treatment plan can take care of the problem. When working with our clients, we develop nurse line, population health management, and patient education programs that help equip people from all walks of life with the tools to effectively manage these situations. Our goal isn’t to avoid necessary surgeries or emergency room visits, but to make sure that when these situations occur, the member is aware of all their options and is prepared to make the right decision that will keep them safe and happy.
“I love knowing that I can play a small role in supporting people who are making tough decisions about their health.”
What inspires you to work at Health Dialog?
I have been at Health Dialog for 11 years, and it still feels good to come to work every day. I love knowing that I can play a small role in supporting people who are making tough decisions about their health. But for me, it’s more than just a job. It’s personal—because I have experienced this firsthand.
Before working at Health Dialog, one of my family members was facing a medical decision for a serious illness. We were terrified, and we frantically searched for information that explained the situation, and we wanted to learn about different treatment options and the impact of choosing one of those options. It was just so important to us that we informed ourselves as much as possible. From this experience, I saw how valuable it is to be able to access comprehensive, easy-to-understand, and clinically-based information when you’re not coming from a medical background. After going through this, I learned about Health Dialog and was inspired to work here.
When I think about what we do, I think about the individuals and families out there who are in the same situation that we were, and it drives my commitment every day.
What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t at Health Dialog?
When I’m not at Health Dialog I enjoy all of the great things that my hometown of Portland, Maine has to offer, such as our great restaurant scene. I also love outdoor activities—fishing, running, hiking with my dogs, and going to the beach are some of my favorites.
Thank you Ryan for your dedication to the Health Dialog cause!