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A person is holding a smartphone with a healthcare app open on the screen. The app displays 'Urgent Care Current Wait Times: 17 Minutes' with a call button and additional options for more information on the location, indicated by the name 'HONORHEALTH' at the bottom.


Maintaining and improving vital services in the long-term

Building on success

In April 2021, after four years of successful collaboration, HonorHealth chose to extend its relationship with Palantir through a strategic retainer. They hoped to improve planning and flexibility—and the partnership has borne fruit.

In 2018, HonorHealth needed to upgrade its website from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 while improving the core functionality required by patients: finding doctors and locations and making appointments. Following this work, HonorHealth’s Customer Experience Tracking Program showed that nearly half of their website users scored their experience a 9 or 10 out of 10 in 2020.

But, “It doesn’t end when you launch your website. There’s always more work to do improving, developing, and maintaining the site. That’s a huge challenge, especially for a company that’s not focused on building websites.” underscores Jonathan Smith, Digital Marketing Manager at HonorHealth. 

One problem: “Website work ebbs and flows,” Smith adds. For this reason, it didn’t make sense for HonorHealth to bring on full-time designers or developers—and Palantir always assisted with follow-up projects and maintenance as needed. “We have people on standby, but we’re not claiming their time when we don’t absolutely need it. For example, we don’t always need a frontend developer on our team, but when we do, Palantir made one available to us in short order.”

Another problem: “Large projects forced us to put aside other important work. On our own, we just didn’t have the flexibility to take on unexpected work.” For example, building a custom UI to improve search functionality for available doctors’ appointments involved integrating the electronic health records service Epic. This project was so ambitious that it left little breathing room for other, smaller maintenance efforts. 

“We were so focused on one large project that we were putting aside important work that was smaller in scope. We loved what we got out of it, but we also had to sacrifice other projects because we couldn’t budget or plan for them ahead of time.”

The next logical step was a strategic retainer with Palantir to smooth out planning and capacity issues and serve HonorHealth’s patients and community with the best possible website. 

HonorHealth Find a Doctor page

About HonorHealth and Palantir

HonorHealth is a long-established community health system in Phoenix, Arizona, employing roughly 12,500 people and operating 200 locations, including six hospitals. We began working on HonorHealth's content management platform in 2018. In 2021, HonorHealth expanded our cooperation to a strategic retainer to benefit from improved flexibility in prioritizing tasks and better planning for the platform's future development.

HonorHealth home page

“The people we’ve worked with at Palantir have built an immense level of trust.”

Jonathan Smith, Digital Marketing Manager at HonorHealth

Increased flexibility and productivity

The retainer arrangement allows for much closer collaboration and long-term planning, allowing us to combine maintenance flexibly with more extensive development projects.

“The retainer gives us the ability to take on bigger projects sooner. We don’t have to wait three months until a large project ends. We have regular weekly meetings because things are always changing, that we need to adapt to quickly. That happens a lot in healthcare,” explains Smith. 

Regular contact and long-term planning are also helpful for budgeting. “We’ve always had a good relationship with Palantir around that particular part. They can give us options as long as we’re clear on what we’re after (and even in the places where we’re not clear).”

“Palantir are accommodating, and they’re definitely flexible. They understand that we have budget restraints, so they’ll try to work within the overall budget we’ve given. They help us think through those situations to get the best result, telling us what is and is not possible.”

Jonathan Smith, Digital Marketing Manager at HonorHealth

A true consulting partnership

The retainer represents a true consulting partnership. Palantir is not simply a source for developers and designers but also accompanies HonorHealth in making technology decisions. “Sometimes I just have questions. I want Palantir’s guidance and experience. They work with other clients, even healthcare providers. They’ve used some of the technologies that we’re adopting now and have given us advice on them. The first question they ask us in every meeting is, 'Any new needs?'”

Having regular contact and a stable team also brings efficiency benefits. With a long-term rapport and established body of knowledge around HonorHealth’s technologies, taking up new initiatives doesn’t mean having to retrain external consultants. “I don’t want to have to start from scratch every single time,” Smith remarks. “We’re still working with some of the people who originally helped us build our site. That knowledge transfers and helps smooth out the entire process.”

We’re a collaborative effort. As far as the technology goes for our website, Palantir is extraordinarily helpful. For example, every time our hosting comes up for renewal, we ask if we should stick with our provider. And they’ll tell us whether to stick or change based on all the other ones they used.

Jonathan Smith, Digital Marketing Manager at HonorHealth

High-impact, innovative projects

Palantir’s long-term relationship with HonorHealth has provided many opportunities to continue innovating and iterating on its website, introducing solutions that push the boundaries of the user experience on offer in the healthcare sector.

Palantir’s combination of UX expertise and ability to bring new ideas and technologies to the table: “They put a lot of attention into the project details early on and interview many people, from stakeholders in the company to website users. They also draw on their experience with other clients, even if it’s not healthcare-specific. That all provides the basis for innovating and recognizing gaps.”

Since the beginning of the strategic retainer, Palantir has worked on several significant projects for HonorHealth that expand and improve its website. These include a new real-time appointment request functionality that integrates Epic’s systems through an API (rather than the embedded iframe used by competitors), a map-based location page, and a major migration between information providers.

The flexibility offered by HonorHealth’s retainer relationship with Palantir allowed it to plan and accomplish these projects while maintaining its website's ongoing security, performance, and functionality.

HonorHealth Appointments page

Palantir is very good about checking in on what’s working for us. If we switch to a tool, they’ll ask us how it’s going after a few months. They’ve always done a good job at that. And they’re very receptive to criticism about any problems we’re having.

Jonathan Smith, Digital Marketing Manager at HonorHealth

Planning for success, year after year

The strategic retainer relationship has made Palantir integral to HonorHealth’s long-term digital strategy. Deep-rooted mutual trust and Palantir’s understanding of HonorHealth’s challenges have allowed them to be more flexible, make sounder financial plans, and continually innovate. All these factors contribute to better customer experience and set a high standard for what a consulting partnership can achieve.

If you also feel you could benefit from a proactive consulting partner, contact us.

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