October 8, 2015

And Then There Were Three: IT Considerations of Payer Mergers

Part 2: Five Services via Technologies Payers Should Provide

In the previous post, we discussed how IT tools can facilitate the process of payer mergers. Certainly, members can also benefit from innovation during and after similar corporate transitions. There are ways in which we believe our customers can improve their own experience while benefiting from more informed and adherent patients.

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  • Patient/Member portals.  The potential positive impact on efficiency, patient outcomes for chronic conditions, and cost containment were the subject of a 2011 report by the California Healthcare Foundation. Most payers now have patient portals. They are predominantly consumer tools, and should not be compared to those examined in the report which reflected predominantly payers which are also providers like Kaiser Permanente. Portals can serve as tools, coaching tools, as well as the source of integration of biosensor data.
  • Patient education tools. The Digital Age presents many opportunities for payers to offer subscribers educational content based on diagnoses or procedures.  Analytics can be very useful in designing personalized digital educational offerings for subscribers and their families. While there are many healthcare educational content companies, which ones to partner with is a valid question.  To address this, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality developed a Patient Educational Materials Assessment Tool.  
  • Secure connected messaging with nurses/coaches. Email is part of everyday life and healthcare is late to the table. A 2014 Becker’s Hospital Review survey showed that 93% of all adults would like email exchanges with their physician. Interestingly 25% say they would pay up to $25 per episode. Many communications involve generic questions which can potentially be fielded by nurses. Some payers have already instituted such a system.  There are companies such as SocialWellth who are taking it one step further and introducing real time messaging with docs and nurses.This offering becomes a market differentiator and a potential customer satisfaction play.
  • Remote monitoring tools. Remote monitoring tools need not be complex to be effective. Payers should consider offering subscribers Fitbits or similar tools. Monitoring tools are most effective when tied to a social platform perhaps mediated by coaches. Subscribers sharing best experiences and suggestions on how to become healthier can be very powerful.

While this post is not a comprehensive list of ways in which technology can improve both payer customer relations and patient outcomes, it should serve as a roadmap for designing an internal group focused on digital technologies. While there are examples of digital tools and strategies implemented by some major payers, the self-insured employer market is ripe to adopt them as well.

We look forward to assisting our clients with technologies to meet their digital strategy needs.  Contact us today to discuss how we can help.


Director of Client Engagements

Author: Digital Health Team
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