Adobe, Salesforce expand health clouds

Adobe releases Experience Manager for Healthcare and plugs its CDP into marketing and clinical data; Salesforce releases healthcare features.

Large CX vendors are betting that the patient experience has enough in common with customer experience that healthcare providers, payers and pharmas will step outside the usual health IT vendor universe and take a chance on their health clouds.

Adobe today released Experience Cloud for Healthcare, which among other things taps into the Adobe customer data platform (CDP) and imagines patients working their way through a healthcare provider's services as a customer journey, and also manages sales and marketing workflows. Adobe Experience Cloud for Healthcare also connects Marketo Engage, Adobe Workfront, Adobe Connect and other applications in environments that secure .

Salesforce released a group of features it calls Care From Anywhere. It includes Remote Patient Exception Monitoring for Health Cloud, which keeps tabs on patient app data and alerts physicians and nurses when changes in markers such as a patient's blood sugar or vital signs may indicate a needed check-in. Salesforce Care From Anywhere also reinforces security in B2C Commerce, Order Management and Salesforce Maps to lock down HIPAA-protected data as well, so they can be used in healthcare workflows.

Timed for HIMSS

All of the releases came at the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference in Las Vegas. Microsoft also has invested heavily in healthcare; it bought Nuance, a speech-recognition vendor with deep roots in healthcare for $19.7 billion, earlier this year. Late last month in the runup to health IT's biggest gathering, Microsoft released Text Analytics for Health.

Those investments are not going unnoticed. Cletis Earle, senior vice president and CIO at Penn State Health, said that his organization -- like many in healthcare -- has mixed tech stacks that include Salesforce, Adobe and Microsoft applications. That's been a new development during the past few years.

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred healthcare companies to find quick solutions to problems such as vaccine management on a massive scale. Penn bought into Salesforce's, one of numerous options quickly made available in the past year.

If we look back, we weren't ready. But now, guess what? Millions of people received the vaccine by way of these hosted solutions.
Cletis EarleSenior Vice President and CIO, Penn State Health

"COVID really forced us to use technology -- or find partners such as Salesforce -- at a draconian pace, and we've never been used to doing that," Earle said. "We were able to go from thought to actual product being used in a matter of a few weeks with Salesforce. The 'fail fast, succeed fast methodology' was something that we've just never done before.

"If we look back, we weren't ready. But now, guess what? Millions of people received the vaccine by way of these hosted solutions, and we're no longer bound by the limitation of our technical capacity."

Health IT evolves

Earle said that healthcare companies might not have been receptive to CX technology in the past, but now that they've come to accept the cloud -- albeit later than other verticals -- it's more of a possibility. He added that healthcare has taken longer than other industries to address data interoperability issues, where patient data passes seamlessly through applications from competing vendors. It's not completely solved, yet.

In fact, some traditional healthcare vendors are lagging in data interoperability, Earle said. He had to cite information-blocking regulations recently to one vendor that was causing a problem for Penn's providers, he said. The vendor pointed out that it had until the regulatory deadline of 2023 to solve the issue.

"I couldn't believe the words that were coming out their mouths," Earle said. "It just tells you how they're still not ready yet. Some people are not necessarily taking the approach that we need to take care of patients in a much more comprehensive way."

With attitudes like that coming from health IT vendors -- and outsiders like Microsoft, Salesforce and Adobe now willing to sign HIPAA business associate agreements, a sticking point in the past -- it opens the door for the big CX vendors to "take over," Earle said.

"We really see Health Cloud, Vaccine Cloud and Care From Anywhere innovations as truly focused on building that better digital care journey that patients and healthcare providers and caregivers have been needing for so long," said Geeta Nayyar, M.D., executive medical director and general manager of healthcare and life sciences at Salesforce, "whether it's just getting information from their medical professionals and providers or connecting to them or engaging them."

Constellation Research founder R "Ray" Wang said that the rise of CDPs has also made it possible for CX vendors to move deeper into healthcare.

"It's hard to do it without a CDP -- and that's why it's so important," Wang said. "Healthcare is a great use case for CDP. You want to be understand how all the interactions come together."

Salesforce Remote Patient Exception Monitoring for Health Cloud
Salesforce Remote Patient Exception Monitoring for Health Cloud gives clinicians at-a-glance views of patient app data streams and highlights when they may need a check-in, such as when a diabetic's blood sugar spikes.

Adobe forges ahead in healthcare

Adobe Experience Cloud for Healthcare takes its application stack and reimagines it for healthcare settings, applying its features to patient data and turning the process of reminders and recommendations into a customer experience. It is the first vertical for Adobe, as competitors such as Oracle and Salesforce push into several at once.

The big CX vendors need to create custom, healthcare-specific instances of their CX applications like Adobe is doing, Wang said, because healthcare operates differently from Adobe's typical strongholds of retail, e-commerce and media.

"It's not just the marketing content. You're getting health information out there that is life-and-death content," Wang said. "It isn't 'Oh, hey cool, yo, check out my offer!' This is, 'Don't take this medication with something else.'"

Elizabeth Sexton, senior privacy product manager at Adobe, said that early use cases include one in Adobe's wheelhouse -- building brand awareness for drugs on behalf of pharmas.

Beyond that, Adobe hopes users will use Adobe Experience Cloud to tackle medication management and compliance, a thorny issue for healthcare providers and payers: Getting patients to remember to take their medication when they're supposed to can help keep them from ending up in the doctor's office or hospital because something has gone wrong. But the key is securing patient data to help customers meet compliance requirements.

"Adobe has had a presence in healthcare for a number of years; we have a number of individual solutions can provide HIPAA-ready capabilities," Sexton said. "We see that we can bring together a lot of our capabilities in order to deliver a more cohesive, end-to-end [patient] journey from start to finish."

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service and enabling technologies for TechTarget.

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