Payers have pulled back from their flurry of experimentation with consumer technologies from 2012 and have become more focused on fewer projects that promise greater return on investment, according to a new report from Chilmark Research.
The report tracks more than 85 digital consumer initiatives used by large commercial payers, innovative Blues and provider-aligned payers.
Health insurance exchanges, a rapidly evolving digital consumer market, and the erosion of the traditional health insurance business model have payers seeking out digital consumer technologies for population health management and member acquisition/loyalty, the report says.
"Based on the research I conducted for this report, I find it simply amazing to see how this market has shifted over the course of a single year," says author Cora Sharma in an announcement.
In its study last year, Chilmark found significant experimentation, but little broad, member-wide deployments and a market still trying to understand social media.
This year, projects are more focused on ROI and member engagement. In particular, payers have pulled back from creating mobile app versions of member service portals and health and wellness apps.
"While payers may have pulled back from rapid experimentation along certain lines, this does not mean that they have given up on the digital consumer. To the contrary, we continue to see growing investment in payer-owned consumer platforms, biometric tracking initiatives, the next generation of social media, and more," Sharma says.
Though she says few payer-launched mobile apps have gained any kind of significant traction, diet, exercise and wellness apps have been called "a global phenomenon."
FierceMobileHealthcare's Greg Slabodkin recently highlighted seven mobile health and wellness apps launched by payers.
However, obstacles to widespread adoption of mHealth technologies include challenges to their appropriate use and validation as well as increasing likelihood that unsuspecting consumers will download useless and possibly even dangerous apps, according to a recent commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).