Research & Technology
OST and Spectrum Health Announce CareCircle to Keep Patients Connected to Loved Ones
An easy-to-use, private, secure, patient-centered communication platform
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 11, 2019 – OST and Spectrum Health announce the launch of CareCircle, a software platform that helps patients communicate with loved ones as they make their way through their health care journey.
OST, a Grand Rapids-based technology firm, developed the secure CareCircle website (www.carecircle.com) for patients to safely provide updates on their health and share private information with a select audience. Spectrum Health safety, privacy and patient experience experts as well as members of Spectrum Health Patient and Family Advisory Councils provided developers with vital input in development of the platform. Spectrum Health piloted the program for six months and becomes the first health system in the nation to offer the product to patients.
“OST is very proud to be launching CareCircle at Spectrum Health, a long-time customer and partner of ours,” said Jim VanderMey, chief innovation officer, OST. “This investment represents their commitment to innovation and to providing an outstanding patient experience.”
CareCircle provides Spectrum Health patients a secure way to share information about their health with people in their social circles, rather than on traditional, unsecured social media. Studies have shown that patients who build robust social relationships show an improvement in their quality of life and even an increased chance of survival.
“CareCircle is providing patients and their families the means to stay connected with friends and loved ones in a safe, interactive environment that is user-friendly but that also emphasizes patient privacy and security,” said James Bonner, senior director, Spectrum Health Safety and Patient Experience. “We are very pleased to partner with OST and to offer this valuable tool to our patients.”
The CareCircle technology is the brainchild of Nathan Loding, 34, an OST software developer who had the idea for the tool after facing the challenges of communicating with friends and family during his daughter’s chemotherapy treatment.
“When my daughter started treatment, we struggled with communicating updates to family and friends. The existing platforms either lacked the privacy or functionality we needed,” said Loding. “I knew there was a better way and that OST was uniquely positioned to make it a reality. That’s how the idea for CareCircle was born.”
CareCircle’s launch is timely, as popular patient communication website CarePages shuttered its operations in late 2017, which has left many health systems scrambling to identify a safe, reliable, solution.
OST officials characterize the software as an easy-to-use, patient-centered solution that fills a void for health systems looking to expand their patient experience into the digital space. Users simply log in to the health system’s CareCircle site and create a page. From there, they can begin sharing information and invite specific people to view the page. The platform is mobile and tablet-responsive as well.
Unlike other social networks, CareCircle is health-focused and allows users to set privacy settings, providing access only to the contacts they approve. CareCircle allows users to access medical articles, condition updates and resources like MealTrain or GoFundMe all in one place. Supporters only have to visit one location to find out exactly how they can help.
The service is subscription-based, so hospitals will work with OST to build and brand the website to their own particular needs. With Spectrum Health announcing its experience with CareCircle, OST officials expect other hospitals and health systems to follow suit.
“Ease of use is important to the patient and family, but privacy and security is of even more importance to the health system offering the product,” VanderMey said. “OST has extensive health care security experience, so we have taken every step possible to ensure that CareCircle is a safe place to be open, honest and gain support in the middle of life’s hardest circumstances.”
Founded in 1997, OST is an integrated, cross-functional business technology firm bringing together strategy & insights, digital experiences, connected products, data center transformation and enterprise managed services as they work alongside clients to optimize and grow their businesses. With offices located in Grand Rapids, Detroit, Minneapolis, London, Hong Kong and Singapore, OST and OpenDigital, the digital consultancy at OST, engage in ways that make the most sense and yield the best results for global Fortune 2000 companies to funded startups. This is all wrapped in a friendly, flexible, people-centered culture. OST has been recognized in Inc. Magazine’s 5,000’s Fastest Growing Private Companies, CRN’s Tech Elite 250, and as a National Best & Brightest Company to Work For.
Spectrum Health, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,300 medical staff experts, 3,700 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 155 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $585 million in community benefit in fiscal year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $30 million in philanthropy in the most recent fiscal year to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.