The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) today announced an investment in Docent Health, an emerging technology-enabled care coordination company that uses local navigators and digital engagement tools to improve health outcomes. The investment will focus in particular on enhancing Docent’s maternity navigation program and a recently expanded relationship between Docent Health and CommonSpirit Health, a large national nonprofit hospital system that delivers the most Medi-Cal births in California.
Medi-Cal plays an outsized role in covering pregnancy and childbirth, particularly for people of color. The program covers nearly half of all California’s deliveries, and people of color account for more than 80% of those births. Pregnant people covered by Medi-Cal also have worse outcomes and report poorer patient experiences than those covered by commercial insurance. They are almost twice as likely to experience prenatal depression. Black birthing people in particular face far higher rates of maternal morbidity and mortality.
Neither health plans nor outpatient providers are effectively incentivized by the Medi-Cal system to invest in the prenatal or postpartum care coordination that could improve these outcomes. In contrast, hospitals, where 99% of Medi-Cal births take place, do have some incentives to improve that care coordination. Docent Health partners with hospital systems like CommonSpirit to turn that motivation into meaningful improvements in maternity care.
Early evaluation data have demonstrated Docent Health’s ability to produce significant improvements on key maternity outcomes across patient and payer types. Many of the largest gains in one Docent-CommonSpirit pilot study — including fewer preterm births, lower readmissions rates, shorter lengths of stay — were seen among Medi-Cal enrollees.
“We are excited by the early results of Docent Health’s partnership with CommonSpirit and the potential it, and other similar partnerships, have to ensure many more people covered by Medi-Cal, and particularly birthing people who are Black, receive robust prenatal and postpartum care,” said Melissa Buckley, director of the CHCF Innovation Fund. “We look forward to building on that promising foundation.”
Docent sources its care navigators from local areas and ensures they reflect the demographic and cultural background of the communities they serve. With help from data analytics and digital engagement tools, Docent’s navigators work to ensure that pregnant people receive evidence-based educational information, adhere to perinatal care plans, and experience seamless care across ambulatory, inpatient, and community-based service providers. In addition to live navigators, Docent also uses artificial intelligence–based texting programs to engage patients and works in tandem with provider care teams.
“Docent Health is committed to ensuring that personalized care is available for all patients, especially those least well served by our current system,” said Royal Tuthill, Docent Health cofounder and president. “We are honored to have the support of CHCF in helping to expand and improve our maternal-child health programs with a heightened focus on addressing health disparities.”
The CHCF investment also includes additional grant support that will be used to evaluate Docent’s intervention, facilitate collaboration with other community-based providers, and help Docent further tailor its solution to meet the unique needs of birthing people of color. Docent’s other customers include Aetna, Northwell Health, Nuvance Health, OhioHealth, and Sutter Health.
About Docent Health
Docent Health’s next-generation technology and services support providers and payers across clinical and wellness areas — breaking down silos, streamlining engagement, and facilitating care coordination to enable personalized care for all. The company’s mission-driven platform and services combine digital and human interactions. For more information, visit www.docenthealth.com or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Docent Health was acquired by GetWell Network in January 2021.
About the California Health Care Foundation
The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.