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Launching RTI Health Advance: An Expert Interview with Amy Helwig

RTI Health Advance, a business unit of RTI International, offers health care consulting services to payers, providers, self-funded employer groups, and digital health companies. We sat down with its leader, Dr. Amy Helwig, to learn more about this growing area of RTI’s expertise focused on improving health care, and the urgency of addressing the longstanding inequities in the United States health care system.

Tell us about the origin of RTI Health Advance.

For more than 60 years, RTI has supported the federal government’s health care transformation research by developing, testing, and analyzing new models for health care delivery and payment reform. During that time, the institute built a reputation for independence, integrity, and scientific rigor.

We wanted to bring our longtime experience directly to those entities that directly care for and insure many Americans. Working with private-sector clients allows RTI Health Advance to build on the mission of RTI – improving the human condition.  

How does RTI Health Advance help its clients address the challenges of today’s environment?

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified health inequities. We have all seen firsthand how social and environmental factors influence who gets sick and who dies. These disparities are a clear, striking example of what researchers call social determinants of health, the conditions of daily life that can influence someone’s health for better or worse.Our clients, along with the federal government and society at large, can no longer ignore health disparities. It is past time to confront these issues, and fortunately we have the team and the tools to do so.

This is an area where our historic expertise and leading-edge methods can really make a difference. Using data analytics, qualitative and quantitative methods, and our proprietary artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms, we identify the countless ways social, economic, and political systems expose populations to risks and vulnerabilities to improve outcomes and lead to better health for everyone.

Health equity is at the heart of all we do. It’s our mission. And it’s a vision we share with our clients.

What are some highlights of RTI Health Advance’s work over the past year?

Our practical, evidence-based solutions help our clients improve cost and quality of care, manage population health, and understand patient experience. ​From digital health interventions to getting medication to patients faster, we translate evidence into practical and effective solutions for health equity that ensure client interventions reach and benefit the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

For example, wearables and apps are disrupting traditional health care models.   These technologies are often very appealing to consumers, but how can we ensure that they make a positive impact on health? Technology developers need to navigate complex regulatory and payment pathways to get their products to market and optimized for adoption and impact. Our expertise in ​assessing safety, effectiveness, and cost ensures new technologies are accessible and improve care for individual patients.

How do projects like these help solve the problem of health inequity?

We view health improvement through the lens of social circumstances. Our solutions drive more equitable access to care and better outcomes for patients. By bringing together the right expertise and resources, we help our clients tackle health disparities across the entire healthcare continuum to make the biggest impact on the health and well-being of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

We are also working on ways to elevate patients’ voices in health care. Our team of methodologists, educators, and behavioral scientists translate data into patient-centered programs and approaches that attract, engage, and retain patients, plan members, employees, caregivers, and key stakeholders.

Because engaged and satisfied patients drive better outcomes.

Disclaimer: This piece was written by Amy Helwig (Executive Vice President, Commercial Health) to share perspectives on a topic of interest. Expression of opinions within are those of the author or authors.