How would you determine who is the best doctor, and which is the best hospital, within the driving distance of your mom or dad for precisely their diagnosis? Justin Huddy, now CEO and Founder of Radius Care, did not know either when he was told his mother had just been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. He had such a difficult time finding accurate and trustworthy healthcare information relevant to his mother’s diagnose, and the available medical resources, that he launched Radius Care, a free personal healthcare assistance tool for Medicare members and their families, so nobody else would have to go through what he did.
Radius Care connects to a patient’s care records through Medicare.gov and uses artificial intelligence to review de-identified data to gain a detailed understanding of the patient’s diagnosis. It then searches millions of US healthcare transactions, ratings and outcome-based reviews to find the best resources for that specific ailment.
We asked Justin Huddy about America’s convoluted healthcare system and what the help is that people need to navigate it on behalf of an older person that they love.
GD: I understand that you were motivated to find Radius Care because you were challenged finding and managing care for your mother when she was suffering from breast cancer. What is the burden that falls on families when a loved one is seriously ill?
Justin Huddy: The real burden is determining the best possible treatment plan for the loved one’s diagnosis and battling the uncertainty of whether that plan will steer them towards the best possible outcome. In my mother’s case, we were not sure we could trust the information we found online. Was it accurate? Was it exhaustive? And most importantly – would we know if we had the best doctors and treatment plan once we found them? Patients and their families experiencing the shock of a new diagnosis should not have to play sleuth and face guesswork, especially in acute health scenarios where every moment and decision matters.
GD: When your mom was ill, what were the frustrations dealing with the healthcare system that you didn’t want anyone else to confront?
Justin Huddy: In addition to the uncertainty around trusting information and information overload. Two other prominent frustrations come to mind. The first is care confusion from managing one’s health, especially in acute health situations, is daunting. From adhering to doctors’ orders and coordinating appointments, to managing updates like test results and transferring medical records to new doctors, a staggering degree of comprehension and effort is required. Age complicates this further.
The second frustration is the physical & mental toll on family. There are 48 million adults serving as unpaid caregivers for another adult (often a parent). Sixtyone percent of those doing so are employed, spending an average of 20.8 hours a week on care duty on top of professional work. Not surprisingly, these individuals are also more likely to suffer from elevated depression and anxiety, a decline in their physical health and 67 percent have even left a job due to the stress of caregiving. This problem is intensifying as America ages. In less than ten years, 80 million people will be over the age of 65, up from 54 million today.
GD: Radius Care is a tool for matching a person’s diagnosis with the physicians and facilities best able to provide care. How do you navigate around the many confidentiality restrictions on medical records to accomplish that?
As an authorized Medicare technology partner, Radius Care is fully HIPPA compliant and is therefore required to uphold the highest security measures. Our level of encryption matches (and, in some cases, surpasses) encryption used by banks and other financial institutions. Data is stored in the most secure vault, ensuring all communication between the Medicare member and Radius Care is fully safeguarded.
This permits Radius Care to securely review historical healthcare data points and transaction details, actively monitor Medicare patients’ health data and, using anonymized outcome-based data from Medicare.gov, suggest the top-rated physicians, facilities, and services.
GD: Naturally, the patient has unrestricted access to their own medical records but patients, and particularly patients old enough to be on Medicare, rely on trusted family members to help them through the healthcare system. How does Radius Care legally share information with someone other than the patient?
Medicare members utilizing Radius Care can grant access to family care collaborators through the platform, enabling them to receive alerts anytime the patient’s health change occurs. These care collaborators can then sign up for their own account and, through a two-factor authentication process, gain access to a loved one’s health information, but only through Radius Care. The personal health information and alerts for the Medicare member remains secure against third-party access and is shared only with the approved care collaborator.
GD: When Radius Care makes recommendations about doctors or hospitals, what are the geographic considerations? It’s a big country and wouldn’t surprise anyone if the best doctor is located far from the patient who needs them most.
Because the platform has access to not only the individual’s health data, but aggregated data for patients with similar profiles (in the same area with the same diagnoses) who’ve been treated successfully, Radius Care’s AI / ML is able to detect local physicians who are tied to best-case outcomes. Users also have the ability to search any additional locale they prefer (for example if they will be moving in with a caregiver located in a different city or state) by entering the corresponding zip code.
GD: Anything else I have not asked about that you want to touch on?
I am proud that we are aligned with CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) in supporting their movement towards value-based care. One of the core tenants of their important initiative, the Patient and Family Experience (PFE), is to educate and empower Medicare members and their families with information to make best health care choices and alleviate confusion. We all need government to sustain Medicare to its fullest potential; especially in addressing social determinants of health factors.