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Speaker Interview

Michael O'Neil Jr., Founder & CEO, GetWellNetwork

What is GetWellNetwork’s philosophy towards patient engagement?

I started GetWellNetwork nearly 20 years ago with a singular focus: An active patient is a better, healthier patient. Today, we offer a comprehensive patient engagement platform and change management framework to help health care providers deliver on that unrelenting philosophy.

I took on non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 28 while at Georgetown University studying for a law degree and an MBA. My experience became the impetus for creating a company that focuses on giving patients the loudest voice and more accountability in their care. My clinical care was excellent, but like so many patients I felt utterly helpless throughout my care experience. It was as if I was on the outside, and my health care was done to me rather than with me.

I emerged from my personal cancer experience healthy, grateful and humbled. I felt inspired to change the way other patients and families experience health care and determined to make it better for the next person up to bat facing a life-defining moment. Little did I know that the solution we pioneered in 2000 would be the start of “patient engagement” as we know it today. Back then, interactive patient systems that encouraged patient activation, input and feedback didn’t exist.

We created the industry’s first workflow-powered entertainment and patient education system at the bedside to better engage patients and families in their care journey. Eighteen years and over 600 client sites later, the same mission continues to drive our work. Today, we touch over 10 million patients with our tools annually, and I still wake up every day driven by the opportunity and responsibility to create change—for every patient, every family, every time.

Tell us something about GetWellNetwork’s work with patients, providers and executive champions at leading health care organizations

Increasingly, the patient journey is moving far outside the four walls of the hospital. It’s at the bedside, yes, but it’s also in the doctor’s office, in the urgent care clinic, in the surgery center and it’s at home. Despite this shift, the vast majority of patient engagement and education is still fragmented:

  • It is delivered in silos with little continuity of experience for patients and families.
  • This puts a strain on resources who deploy, maintain and extend solutions across populations and care settings.
  • And most solutions fail to take into consideration a person’s capacity to engage in their health, leading to missed opportunities for achieving the best possible health outcome.

In response to the shifts in how and where care is being delivered, over the past three years, we have been building out our platform, launching new solutions and acquiring companies to extend patient engagement across the full spectrum of care.

Late last year, we introduced a revolutionary approach called Precision Engagement™  that redefines patient-centered care. Our goal is to help health care organizations deliver on the promise of population health by personalizing patient engagement and meeting patients where they are.

Simply put, Precision Engagement means connecting with patients at the right time, in the right place and with the right information based on their personal readiness to engage. It also offers health care organizations a unique approach for delivering engagement through a singular platform. The results: better experiences for patients and families, lower friction for clinical and technical teams and better performance across the health care organization. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to bring Precision Engagement to the Middle East. 

For example, right here in Abu Dhabi multi-specialty hospital Healthpoint, a Mubadala company, is now live with GetWell Inpatient™. Equipped with our flagship Interactive Patient Care™ solution, they’re engaging and empowering patients, families and providers from check-in to discharge with personalized health education tools and entertainment features fully translated to Arabic. 

Patients are able to navigate the system with a unique wireless keyboard that has both English and Arabic keys. Healthpoint is preparing to deploy GetWell Go™, our mobile application that extends the reach of care beyond the hospital walls—engaging patients and family with education and self-care management tools prior to and after surgery.

King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is bringing a state-of-the-art Interactive Patient Care experience to their patients and staff at King Abdullah Centre for Oncology & Liver Diseases. Leveraging advanced integrations between GetWell Inpatient, other health IT systems and our collection of Patient Pathways™, they’re also actively and effectively engaging hospitalized patients and their families.

What do you feel are the challenges faced or gaps in the current and desired PX initiatives in the region?

Today’s efforts in the Middle East remind me of the U.S. a few years ago. The vision and concepts are there, but leading providers need a strategy and a detailed plan to execute. The technology is the easy part; to have a sustained impact, organizations must engage the right partners who can lead the change management work with staff. GetWellNetwork brings almost 20 years of experience in patient engagement exclusively, and a long-standing commitment to the region. 

Our formula: 

Strategy + Leadership Engagement + Proven Platform + Change Management Model = Success. 

This is such an exciting and critical time for providers and the patients they serve. Patient engagement and experience initiatives cannot stop with a nice marketing campaign and slick mobile app. There needs to be strategic commitment and alignment, and the tools and workflows must be fully integrated into both the systems and process of care delivery. And finally, engaging staff both during implementation and in a sustained manner via a formal accountability paradigm are keys to success. It’s hard work, but the most rewarding endeavor imaginable.

How do you think this symposium will impact healthcare providers in their aim to achieve px excellence and drive towards ‘patient centricity’, and why is such a platform important for the healthcare sector in the region?

The International Patient Experience Symposium is a timely gathering of health care leaders each motivated by a desire to shape the future of patient-centered care. Bringing together so many key players creates an opportunity to define change and develop a one-mind vision for achieving success.

It’s an important platform to share and discuss forward-looking tools, resources and approaches for connecting with patients more effectively throughout the continuum of care. I am excited to share highlights from our nearly two decades of work and meet innovative physicians and health care providers striving for patient centricity. This is our time.



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