The Potential for Personalized Healthcare with Accolade

Leslie Harding
December 13, 2021

As technology continues to transform the healthcare industry, integrated care has become an increasingly popular model to provide more affordable and better quality care. So what does that look like in practice? Accolade has been at the forefront of personalized healthcare and benefits navigation for years. Sean Maloney, VP of Product Marketing at Accolade, joined us on Better Benefits to talk about what benefit professionals should know about the company’s solutions. 

What is personalized health care all about? 

“It’s not that complicated—it’s about healthcare,” Sean said. Personalized healthcare delivers a unique experience to members that is all about guiding members to the most efficient and effective care to change health outcomes for the better. Curated experiences and trusted relationships are keys to delivering successful personalized care.

Accolade has a unique approach to personalized healthcare. “Healthcare can no longer be seen as transactional, a series of one-off experiences.” Sean says, “Great care takes a holistic approach that looks at the whole person and the whole journey.”  That’s why Accolade uses data to identify the most efficient and effective care plan for their members’ needs. Then the Accolade care team works with the member to ensure they can access quality providers and health care services to reach their health goals. This value-based approach offers a supportive care journey that delivers a better member experience and better health outcomes for less. 

The road from benefits navigation to care delivery

Over the past few years, Accolade has evolved from helping members navigate their benefits to offering fully integrated care delivery. The team learned a lot as they worked helping customers navigate their benefits, but always had a vision of doing more. That led to acquiring four companies over two years: 2ndMD, an expert medical opinion service, PlushCare, a virtual primary and mental health care provider, MD Insider, a machine learning platform for healthcare, and HealthReveal, a cloud-based clinical analytics platform. These were really deliberate acquisitions made to help Accolade reach their goals of delivering personalized healthcare.

Helping members and employers alike

It can be hard for members to find the help they need in context of their health journey and the providers and services available to them via their health benefits. For example, Sean tells us about a recent health issue in his family. It was a sudden, serious diagnosis, and he and his wife left that first appointment with only some brochures and well wishes. That is such a scary experience, and it is the reality for so many people. 

Normally he wouldn’t have anybody to call, but because he works for Accolade he did. That support was invaluable. The doctor doesn’t know your health benefits, but Accolade could help him navigate where to go next and figure out what was covered. He had a resource who could help him get access to an expert opinion, a specialist, a wellness program, or any other resources that might be relevant to help along the way. 

“You can’t serve up care randomly.” Sean said, “It has to be at the right time in the right way. When you do that, members are successful in getting the care they need, when they need it. In turn, that helps employers reduce healthcare costs and increase utilization. That is a win-win for everyone involved in the care journey, from insurance to delivery.” 

Pandemic learnings 

Healthcare costs rose dramatically over the past few decades, so providing great value for employers and improving employee health outcomes always has to be a priority. With the pandemic, employer priorities have changed. Suddenly they were faced with new questions, like how do you navigate remote work? How do you navigate bringing people back into the office? How can our benefits provide the most value for remote employees? HR teams are having to address pandemic-related concerns proactively now as companies continue to adjust. That’s why Accolade stepped up and developed their Covid Response Care solution to help HR managers with their employees’ most pressing health care needs. 

Other issues that are top of mind are access to care, health equity, and access to mental health care. These issues came to the forefront and we saw as a society that we had to address them urgently. It isn’t just about decreasing cost, it’s about providing the right care and an experience of value in a critical time for many families. Providing quality care with great outcomes will always be a cornerstone of what Accolade provides for members. 

What’s next for Accolade?

Technology and data will play a foundational role for what is next at Accolade. Reliable data is expensive to build and takes a lot of resources, but once you have it you can enable so much. The team at Accolade is focused on using data effectively to test out new ideas and figure out what will move the needle for customer outcomes. For example, what happens if you refer someone to Program A instead of Program B? It’s all about experimentation and continuous learning to figure out how to provide the best experience and outcome possible. Data can also help create an excellent customer experience while bringing down costs. 

That technology and data will continue to facilitate integrating care delivery and pulling it through everything Accolade does. It’s all about bringing doctors, mental health providers, and other relevant providers together to provide cohesive, comprehensive care. Imagine a doctor being able to see that you have a prescription benefit for the drug they are going to prescribe right in the office. They can feel confident knowing they are prescribing something that is covered, that you can afford, and that will work for you on all fronts. This is the kind of integration Accolade wants to see in the future. 

To hear more insights from Sean, including his journey to working at Accolade, listen to Episode 33 of Better Benefits now. If you enjoy the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. 

Sean’s Recommended Resource

On every episode of Better Benefits, we ask our expert guests for a book or resource they’d recommend to others working in the benefits space. This week, Sean recommended Stratechery, a paid newsletter run by Ben Thompson. It’s all about applying frameworks to the world of tech to answer tough questions. It’s a great resource for people who work in tech and are interested in going deeper on strategy and thinking about interesting issues facing the industry.

If you’d like to connect with Sean and the team at Accolade you can visit their website at

Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Sean Maloney and Accolade are not endorsed, affiliated with, nor compensated by Ansel Insurance Inc. To learn more about Ansel, check out our plan and get in touch.