"What's interesting is as these individuals start out online, they are signing up for the online meetings and the talks with the expert, so we're achieving a kind of a mixed model with them being able to enter with their preference. When we say, 'We have a national expert talking about eating disorders today at noon, would you like to join?' They join, and then they ask them questions."
In the pilot project, which included 1,000 patients, Gondek says the effort generated a 20% engagement rate.
"If you look at a traditional coaching program we'd be fortunate to get engagement of 2 to 3% using a telephonic model," says Gondek. "By reaching out to these individuals with a welcome home call and an invite to the program, we achieved 20%, which, that's pretty high—double what we thought it was going to be."
Gondek also says that once patients engage with the program they're more apt to take a phone call from a coach, if needed.
And while the hard data from readmission rates is still a few months off, Gondek is optimistic.
"I had a goal of reducing it [the readmission rate] from 2 to 5%, and it's a little too soon to tell, but some of our numbers are looking very promising. We're thinking we're going to save somewhere between $1,000–$2,000 per individual, which is pretty significant."
Gondek says Magellan is running with its early success in substance abuse readmission rates and including other conditions such as eating disorders, chronic pain and autism, among others.
"It's HIPAA-compliant; it's got experts [and] we're monitoring the site. I really think that we find ourselves with a helpful solution that will achieve high engagement, utilization, and will improve health while keeping costs down. We actually see this as having tremendous power in a number of ways."