Cigna CIO Mark Boxer: Focus on custom tech solutions

Man using a smartphone
Payer giant Cigna has spearheaded several initiatives that use technology to reach healthcare consumers.

Technology is becoming more and more ingrained in healthcare innovation, and Cigna has worked with several clients to develop apps and tools that solve their unique concerns.

The key for any healthcare organization looking for a new technological solution is to have a firm grasp on what its consumer base wants, Mark Boxer, Ph.D., Cigna’s executive vice president and global chief information officer, wrote in a column for Managed Healthcare Executive.

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“The learning for healthcare vertical is this: First understand your customers—their needs and their preferences—and then build the technology solution set, rather than chasing the new shiny object,” Boxer wrote.

He offered three examples of areas where Cigna did so with its clients, including:

  • An app developed alongside a client in the U.K. that was struggling with queues for urgent care in the country’s National Health System. The app includes telemedicine, e-prescribing and other virtual health tools.
  • Virtual reality programs to help customer service representatives at a Chinese company balance and manage their stress.
  • An app designed to guide healthcare workers through key healthcare decision points, like choosing a health plan or a primary care provider. The app can be customized to provider or payer needs, according to Boxer.

Customers expect digital solutions to be personalized and user-friendly, given their experiences with such programs outside of healthcare, so providers and payers must adapt in the same manner, Boxer writes.

New technologies like health apps are flooding the market, and have been shown to improve healthcare and reduce costs. They can also streamline workflow at healthcare organizations. But some gaps remain, as many mHealth options fail to benefit patients with chronic conditions—in fact, some of the most vulnerable populations find them to be “useless.”