Mobile tech: How to manage risk with the power of the platform

The following is an excerpt from an article published in the FierceHealthPayer eBook "Consumer Engagement in the Post-Reform Era: Payer Strategies for Engaging Members." Download the eBook here to read more.

Mobile technology goes beyond providing consumers with enhanced convenience and satisfaction; it also can improve risk management.

"[Apps] empower consumers with the information they need, when and where they need it," said Rajeev Ronanki, director of healthcare cloud services and technology strategy for Deloitte Healthcare and Life Sciences, a division of New York-based Deloitte Consulting. "With health knowledge at their fingertips, consumers can more actively manage their healthcare decisions, optimize care usage and change their behavior to become healthier members."

Mobile technology can help payers save the big dollars. Health plans typically spend 25 cents of every dollar on administration, according to Ronanki, and there is a huge opportunity for cost savings through the use of mobile technologies. For example, a health plan can lower cost from customer inquiries by reducing human-to-human interactions, provide timely and critical information, such as cost estimates at the point of service, and increase electronic communication over paper-based mailing. 

"Mobile technologies not only reduce the burden of customer inquiries but also simultaneously encourage customer loyalty by addressing information gaps," he said. "It is a win-win situation for both payers and consumers." 

Kaiser Permanente has been in the mobile world since July 2011 with KP Locator, which searches for nearby providers; the app has been downloaded more than 77,000 times.

One of the driving factors behind Kaiser's decision to create multiple apps--including Mix It Up, an online nutrition program; Thrive Across America, a physical activity program; Every Body Walk!, a personalized walking program; and KP Preventative Care, an app offering personalized health reminders--was a study the organization conducted proving secure patient-physician email messaging improves the effectiveness of care for patients with diabetes and hypertension.

"The nature of the mobile platform lends itself to more consistent engagement opportunities, which has great potential to empower members to become more involved in their care," Christine Paige, senior vice president of marketing and Internet services for the Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, said about how health IT improves quality-of-care scores.

"We are seeing a trend in our members using their smartphones to manage their health so filling that need is a measure of success in and of itself," Paige added. Although the number of downloads is a nice measure of success, Paige said the ultimate goal is to support members' health.

To read the rest of this and other articles, download FierceHealthPayer's free eBook, "Consumer Engagement in the Post-Reform Era: Payer Strategies for Engaging Members."

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