Insurers use IT triggers to communicate on member wellness

As health insurers increasingly are expanding their business to focus on member health and wellness, they are finding that one particular information technology (IT) tool, known as trigger-based communications, can help compel such behavior.  

More than 50 percent of health plans said they will invest in trigger-based communications--which use data analytics to generate relevant communications to consumers--hoping to encourage their members to improve their health, according to an IDC Health Insights survey report, commissioned by Pitney Bowes Software. The survey asked 44 payer executives about their consumer communications strategies and future investment plans.

IDC Health Insights previously forecast that insurers would focus more on consumers in 2012, predicting that they would allocate at least 70 percent of their business and technology resources to consumer engagement and care management strategies, FierceHealthPayer reported.

"Health plans interviewed perceived communications technology as a source of competitive advantage," Janice Young, program director of healthcare payer IT strategies at IDC Health Insights, said. "Analytics capabilities will play a significant role in promoting member wellness and improved patient outcomes."

Insurers currently send information to their members through "corporate silos" that are "unmanaged, unfocused and frequently uncoordinated," the report said. With trigger-based communications, all departments within the insurance company could coordinate to ensure members take such steps as exercise daily, eat well or make doctor appointments.

For example, if an insurer's claims department knows a member is taking diabetes medication, a trigger-based program would automatically alert the customer service department, the health and wellness department and the clinical care department--any of which could then send the member reminders to take the prescriptions, reported Information Week.

"There's definitely room for improvement in the industry," Bill Sinn, strategic marketing director of insurance and healthcare at Pitney Bowes Software, said. "In many instances these carriers don't have a 360-degree view of their customer, and the question for a lot of these payers is how can we make that customer experience better? How can we improve the outcomes for these medical initiatives? And how can we reduce costs at the same time?"

To learn more:
- read the IDC Health Insights report (.pdf)
- see the Information Week article

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