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    Four member experience technologies your health plan should be using


    3. Tech that empowers members

    In addition to using data to help answer patient questions and assist with interactions, plans should use it to empower patients to seek out information independently. One way is through mobile apps.

    The number of health mobile apps continues to grow with more than 259,000 available and 3.2 billion downloads in 2016, according to the mHealth Economics 2016 report by Research 2 Guidance. However mobile apps from health plans are lacking—only 17% of mobile health experts rate health plan apps as above average.

    Yeazel says that though many health plans are meeting minimum mobile app requirements by providing payment status, basic benefit and provider network information, there is an opportunity to provide patients with more.

    “The ability to look up more detailed benefit and provider network information is a critical component required for use of the product and ideally, an online out-of-pocket calculator when access to a larger screen or phone call is undesirable or unavailable,” Yeazel says.

    Robust mobile apps that help patients save money and access care help position health plans as reliable and trusted providers, Yeazel says.

    “Easily understood network provider information and the ways in which care needs to be coordinated with the primary care physician are necessary to minimize out-of-pocket expense and unwelcome balance bills for the customer,” says Yeazel.

    4. Tech that provides tailored programs

    Using data to create wellness initiatives for employers can also generate customer loyalty. Jaquie Finn, head of digital health at Cambridge Consultants, a product development and technology consultancy, says offering “success kits” that include wearables, apps, online health coaches and online peer groups, can lead to better health outcomes for patients.

    “Some plans are targeting [members] who are likely to present with type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle induced chronic illnesses if preventative action is not put in place, heading off huge employer healthcare costs down the line by empowering people to manage their health in a far more proactive way,” Finn says. “The powerful combination of the tools, technology and techniques employed for patient engagement has generated successful results, with reimbursement for each patient provided one year from the start of the tailored program, only if certain key performance indicators have been achieved.”

    When offering mobile patient engagement apps, it’s critical to provide and document information that is useful over time, says Finn.

    “It is clear from the Fitbit-type gadget that user engagement drops off after six months or so when data is simply descriptive and providing a summary of what has happened in the past,” Finn says. “For anyone to adhere to a fitness or medication regime, they must be motivated and understand what will happen in the future if they are to remain compliant. Successful apps must therefore aim to nudge behavior through a variety of behavioral science techniques such as goal motivation, social reinforcement and habit formation.”

    Donna Marbury is a writer in Columbus, Ohio.



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