Insurers develop next generation of mobile apps

As consumers increasingly use mobile platforms to access their health insurance information, insurers are ramping up their app development to offer more robust and extensive capabilities.

Most insurers already offer mobile apps that provide members' claims information, deductible status, ID cards, medication prices, as well as doctor and hospital locations. Now they're integrating other elements, such as wellness incentives, into their mobile offerings, reported AIS Health.

One of the leaders in the mobile app market is Humana, which has two primary apps that let members access various services and track and share their workouts with friends. Humana also has two app games that promote wellness--one that is based on the video game Tetris and another that motivates the user to walk around to play.

Humana aims to create apps that encourage member self-service capabilities, impact medical trends, enhance member retention and boost revenue, Julie Kling, Humana's mobile executive business lead, told AIS Health. We're "not thinking about just physical health, but [members'] well-being, … their beliefs and their connections with family and friends," she said.

Meanwhile, Aetna last December bought the iTriage app, which allows customers to research symptoms, locate a nearby provider and book appointments. The app already has been downloaded more than 6 million times, making it one of the most popular health and fitness apps on both the Apple and Android platforms, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Aetna also has begun using the CarePass Sync platform, which allows data to be shared among multiple apps, including ones offered by companies other than Aetna, and stored in Aetna's personal health cloud, noted AIS Health.

UnitedHealth Group has joined the mobile app movement, using apps like its OptumizeMe and Health4Me to engage consumers in healthy behaviors in ways that are convenient, fun, educational and effective. "The common thread: These apps put consumers in charge of when and how they manage their health," Nick Martin, vice president of innovation, research and development at UnitedHealth Group wrote in a May guest commentary for FierceHealthPayer.

However, some insurers haven't yet entered the mobile app market. Highmark, for example, consciously decided not to develop apps because of the frequent updates needed, choosing instead to create a dynamic mobile website, says Matt Fidler, Highmark's vice president of retail and consumer marketing, noted AIS Health.

To avoid becoming lost in the mobile sea, the Pittsburgh-based insurer wants to carve out a different offering as it analyzes app pilots for diabetes management, wellness programs and even telemedicine.

To learn more:
- read the AIS Health article

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