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Lisa Rometty Highlights the Benefits of Digital Health for Patients With Chronic Skin Conditions


Lisa Rometty, CEO at Zerigo Health, discusses digital health innovations, strategies, and partnerships to improve the lives of patients living with chronic skin conditions.

Zerigo Health, a digital health care platform, recently appointed Lisa Rometty as its new CEO. Rometty previously worked as the president of CVS Kidney Care and has more than 25 years of experience working in the digital health landscape. Her work at Zerigo aims to improve the lives of patients living with chronic conditions using at-home treatment technologies.

Lisa Rometty, CEO, Zerigo Health

Lisa Rometty, CEO at Zerigo Health

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®): Can you share with us your vision for Zerigo Health in the digital health landscape, especially in terms of how it will improve the lives of individuals with chronic skin conditions?

Rometty: I'm really excited to have joined Zerigo Health. I have been supporting and advocating to help people living with chronic conditions the majority of my health care career. What specifically drew me into the mission of Zerigo Health is that we are really focused on improving the lives of people living with chronic autoimmune skin conditions. Nearly 1 in 10 people suffer from these skin conditions. And from a cost perspective, for eczema and psoriasis alone, the health care system in this country is spending over $20 billion annually, and unfortunately, that growth continues to grow 20% on average each year.

Not to mention, if you really think about the quality of life of these people living with these chronic skin conditions, it's very challenging. Often, the care pathways are very confusing. Access to care is very difficult; often wait times to see a dermatologist are quite lengthy and often involve several weeks or even months. When you think about how patients want to live their lives, I know that the National Psoriasis Foundation has reported that upwards of 49% of patients with psoriasis often miss at least 1 day of work on a regular basis, just because of the challenges or the pain that they are having to manage with their disease.

I think that our mission is to really lean into this and my aspiration for the company is that we are really going to serve as the champions for these people. And our vision is we really want to partner with providers and of course payers in service of these people to create an experience that not only is clear for people living with these conditions so they know how they can best live their lives, but also really meets them where they are.

Particularly as we all know, most people spend most of their days outside of a clinic or a doctor's office. Here at Zerigo, we're really focused on meeting people where they are in their homes, in their apartments where they live, so that we can really help provide them with the right tools and support necessary, so that they can proactively manage their conditions, live the lives that they want to, and in the meantime, we can actually help save the system from a cost perspective because we can help partner with providers to provide the right treatment at the right time for these people.

AJMC: What are some key advantages of at-home treatment with connected phototherapy? And are there any guidelines for patient education and engagement in this model of care?

Rometty: Well, first of all, there absolutely are guidelines. Of course, as with any home solution, there are things that you have to consider in order to effectively and, frankly, safely deliver any kind of chronic condition therapy in the home, and we are no different. When I think about what our advantages are, let's talk first about what really is required to deliver care in the home.

First and foremost, you want to ensure that the therapy is safe and, to your point, is in accordance with guidelines. In our case, our therapy is in alignment with the guidelines that the American Academy of Dermatology sets forth for phototherapy. I think the wonderful thing about phototherapy is that this is not a new form of therapy. There's a lot of literature that is out there, it's been around for over 2 decades. The efficacy of successfully treating people living with either light to moderate forms of psoriasis, as an example, is one of our sweet spots.

The data show that whether you're delivering that treatment in clinic or in the home, the efficacy of either treatment is very comparable. I think where the differences start to present itself is in the experience for the person and then the adherence to that treatment.

But as an example, I think one of the big advantages of in-home treatment is that if you think about how long the average treatment will be, from an experience perspective for the person, in-home treatment is about 20 minutes. Of course, some might be shorter, some might be longer, but that is about on average for an in-office treatment is going to be closer to 90 minutes. You they have to drive to the office, they may have to wait into the office, then there's the actual treatment time. So, I think one huge advantage from a user perspective is the convenience of knowing that you can safely self-treat in your home.

But then there's also the advantage of having it be much easier from a time perspective. I would say the other advantage that we have being able to support people in the home is, of course, as with any chronic management program in the home, you need to make sure that you provide support for those people treating at home.

And I would say that I'm particularly proud of our value proposition. Because when we think about meeting people where they are in their homes, we think about 3 things. One, we think about making sure that we've got a safe and effective device. We also have a mobile app that provides a digital experience for the patient. And that is a really important piece, because that is also how we ensure adherence to the treatment, because in order to effectively deliver therapies, particularly in the home, engagement of the person themselves and then adherence to the therapy is paramount. And in our case, we have extremely high adherence rates and engagement. Over 95% of our patients report that they are very satisfied with the Zerigo experience, and that leads to nearly 70% treatment adherence. Even more so, we report 79% of our patients actually reporting improvement in their conditions.

So, as you can see, a big part of how we partner with patients and their physicians is to ensure that we surround them with the right tools in their home so that they can successfully perform their treatment. And then I would say a third competitive advantage compared with other options is that we also have what we call our Member Services team. And that team is available to those that are using our system, not only helping them to understand at the onset of their therapy experience with us, how to effectively use the device, how to use the app that goes with the device, but then on an ongoing basis, they are there to answer questions.

Often these patients are managing behavioral health and mental health challenges. Because these conditions are often in places that are visible to other people, it can be very difficult for the person to be managing that disease. And our job of our Member Services is to really be there as that confidant and support network for our members. And so, I think going back to the statistics that I shared with you and particularly all live human beings who are RNs [registered nurses], medical assistants, and certified health and wellness coaches who are trained in how to support our patients, I think that that is really a big part of our secret sauce.

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