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Dina aims to help hospitals, health plans ‘extend their reach into the home’

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Ashish Shah, CEO and founder of Dina, talked with Chief Healthcare Executive about his young company and the need to improve the coordination of care.

Years ago, Ashish Shah said he envisioned his future as an engineer, and not an entrepreneur.

Yet today, Shah is the president, CEO and founder of Dina, a Chicago-based company working with hospitals and health plans to improve home-based care. Dina offers an AI-powered care coordination platform and network to help coordinate programs and services for patients in their own homes, such as skilled nursing care, medical equipment and other needs, such as meal delivery.

“I’m an engineer,” Shah told Chief Healthcare Executive. “Part of my training, the way I think is, you get connected to problems, and you solve them.”

Shah founded Dina in 2015, shortly after the death of his father. He said he gained an acute understanding of the challenges of coordinating care, and he talked to others with similar challenges.

“His situation brought front and center the opportunity to solve something that I think is really meaningful,” Shah said in an interview.

(See excerpts of our conversation with Ashish Shah at the HLTH Conference in Las Vegas. The story continues below.)

'Organize a really fragmented space'

So far, Dina is working with 25 hospitals, mainly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but the company is looking to expand. Shah said he hopes the company is in at least 10 different geographic markets in 2023. And the company is aiming to double that in the following year, he said.

“I think moving forward, healthcare is gonna be delivered in three mechanisms,” Shah said. “It's going to be in person, it's going to be virtual and online, and it's increasingly going to happen in your home as well.

“So Dina is a company that's focused on helping health systems and health plans really extend their reach into the home,” he said. “And so we'll coordinate everything from home health physician house calls all the way through to home modification on our platform. So it's a really unique opportunity to organize a really fragmented space, but really make sure that third leg of the stool really gets built out properly.”

Dina landed a spot on the 2022 Inc. Magazine 5,000, its annual compilation of the fastest growing companies.

Shah said Dina has been working to grow deliberately.

“Our approach has been taking a very capital efficient approach by finding like minded early customers who have partnered with us and solving everyday problems together, and then expanding with those customers to take us into new markets and regions,” he said.

Industry leaders have noted that many patients are opting to recover at home, rather than in a long-term care facility or a rehabilitation center.

However, healthcare leaders and researchers have also said there needs to be a better transition in care from the hospital to home. University of Michigan researchers conducted a study based on survey results of more than 1,200 patients after they left the hospital. Patients are enduring unnecessary challenges after they are discharged from the hospital, and many of them are preventable, they found.

“No one’s trying to do a bad job, but the system’s not really well orchestrated,” Shah said.

When preparing to discharge patients to home, providers have to weigh a host of factors, such as whether the patient needs skilled nursing or physical therapy. In-home care agencies are struggling with staffing shortages.

For patients that can’t go home, they need to find beds at nursing homes, but many facilities have been limiting admissions due to a shortage of nurses.

Listen to those 'on the front line'

Many healthcare leaders are struggling with helping patients move to post-acute care. Healthcare executives who are looking to improve the process should talk with those who have to arrange post-acute care.

“I would start with listening to their people on the front line, and I don’t mean just doctors and nurses,” Shah said. “Social workers, care coordinators, the people who are stuck everyday behind a fax machine, or a phone, trying to coordinate this.”

“I really encourage them to get in front of the social workers and the teams who are responsible for coordinating care,” Shah said. “Now, there are wonderful tools and technologies for everyone across the care continuum. But those folks in particular their tool of choice is the fax machine. And I think if leaders are really invested in listening and watching and observing what they need to do to do their job on a daily basis, it will quickly become apparent, some of the things that need to start to change right now.”

Dina works with companies to get real-time information. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company worked with Jefferson Health to develop an automated system to find post-acute providers that were accepting new patients, allowing the system to discharge patients more quickly and reduce expenses.

Bayada Home Health Care has selected Dina to help power its digital care transition solutions and services.

Many healthcare companies and providers are looking to expand services available at home.

When CVS Health moved to buy Signify Health in an $8 billion deal last September, analysts said it was another sign that healthcare continues to move outside traditional settings. Signify’s network of doctors cares for patients at home. Amazon announced a $3.9 billion deal in July to buy One Medical, a primary care organization that offers members in-person care and virtual care.

Companies are making massive investments in the home, Shah said, “because that is the future site of care.”

“It’s one that we need to modernize, professionalize,” he said.

Shah said his young company is focused on its mission of improving the coordination of care at home, but as he said, “We have to earn it, every single year, by delivering on our promises.”

He said he is very motivated to help health systems and health plans improve the coordination of care for patients in the post-acute setting.

“Anyone who sees it immediately develops an incredible passion to fix this,” Shah said.


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