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The Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) has significantly transformed the health insurance landscape from a number of perspectives. It has led to market consolidation, grown the ranks of subscribers by the millions, created a consumer-driven market, and potentially paved the way for technology to improve the payer-subscriber relationship. We will highlight what we consider digital tools that address the growing needs of this transformation from the consumer standpoint. Some of these exist and some are in development, but all are seen as ‘must haves’ for success.
5 Things Subscribers Want in Mobile Health Tools from Their Health Insurance Payer
Some fundamental problems our clients’ patients are navigating through and can be addressed easily with mobile technology tools are the following:
- Price transparency tools. Transparency has been a buzzword in the past few years. Its importance has been facilitated by the emergence of the Internet of Things. People expect mobility, complete truthfulness and trust from the ways they obtain information. They also value consumer reviews, evident in the success of social media-based business models of such as Yelp, Airbnb, and Amazon. Healthcare is among the costliest of consumer purchases. The choices that consumers have today herald the need for price transparencies in this sector. The advent of medical tourism, surgeon online outcomes data, and payer patient portals make price transparency tools a natural progression.
- Physician scheduling tools. Provider scheduling mobile apps have arrived. The most prominent is ZocDoc which has a physician-subscriber business model. Payers have not themselves appreciated the need for developing or partnering with such technology. Benefits to patients are obvious. Benefits to payers include less missed appointments and therefore better patient care. Sixty percent of physicians stated in a survey about apps and patient engagement that a top benefit of apps would be to provide patients with automated appointment reminders and alerts.
- Medical records from all providers. This is the Holy Grail of coordinated care. While payers are not EHR developers or vendors, they have for the most part adopted patient portals. These are presently meeting expectations on basic functionality. A payer whose portal is a gateway for a subscriber or caregiver to access their medical record from multiple providers (which might utilize diverse electronic record systems) is what will truly be the value proposition of investment in technology. In a study by Ruder Finn consumers were most interested in apps for making office appointments, viewing their health records, and accessing test results. If a payer can facilitate this across providers for a subscriber, it becomes a consumer market advantage.
- Resources for caregivers. Supporting a caregiver’s mission is not something payers generally appreciate as critical in healthcare. Though the subscriber is the customer, caregivers are the intermediaries which carry forth the healthcare mission. They accompany the patient to visits, play a critical role in medication adherence, and can help carry out improved lifestyle and preventive medical recommendations by payers. Mobile apps dedicated to caregivers, furnishing them with reminders, payer and government resource information (including any of the other four tools mentioned here) should be key components in a comprehensive digital technology strategy for payers.
- Health coaching tips and patient education. Many payers have invested in live health coaches as a service to prescribers. A mobile tool providing recommendations for self-care preventive health measures and general health guidance provided by professional medical society guidelines would be extremely helpful to subscribers and caregivers. Players such as Pharma and third party content companies are jumping at the chance to have a venue to channel disease state awareness educational tools to at the point of care. These are opportunities that payers cannot afford to pass up.
While there are payers who have tools which address some issues in healthcare navigation (participating provider lists, price estimates on diagnostic lab tests, prescription information and reminders) none provide all of the above resources which we consider an ideal comprehensive offering to subscribers. These technologies are bit beyond reach with regards to either cost or complexity and we feel strongly that these tools represent the key to successful healthcare in the future and we are there to lead the way. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.
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Director of Client Engagements