Insurers' online presence and the experience provided to consumers play key roles in the transition to a more consumer-focused industry. But many insurers' websites still lack easy-to-access, simple information that consumers need to make smarter health decisions.
In this Fierce exclusive, FierceHealthPayer breaks down how Oscar Insurance Corp. created a completely new kind of online presence that's easy and transparent for consumers.
Change the status quo
When it comes to websites, many insurance companies simply try to adjust or tweak their existing online system to add new features on top of already complicated and confusing information.
"You don't build airplanes by putting wings on boats," Rushika Fernandopulle, co-founder and CEO of New York-based Iora Health, said during a panel discussion at AHIP Institute 2014 in Seattle. "To cross the chasm, we must be bold enough to build airplanes."
Oscar, an upstart, for-profit, licensed insurer in New York, is doing just that. The company refers to itself as a technology-driven health insurance plan that "empowers consumers as they go through the complexity" of the healthcare system, Kevin Nazemi, co-founder of Oscar, said during the session.
"It's hard to increment from status quo that is built upon an old system" where the consumer is considered an afterthought, he said. That's why Oscar built a revolutionary online experience where consumers can get quotes for available plans in less than 30 seconds with just a few clicks. The company aims for a website that provides a simple, user-friendly experience.
Create a usable website
On the Oscar homepage, for example, consumers see four primary options. If they click on "talk with a doctor," they're asked to enter a phone number so a board-certified doctor can call them back within an average of seven minutes.
These televisits, which are available on a 24/7 basis for free to all Oscar members, already have led to a diversion in emergency room visits, especially for first-time parents who need to be walked through various health situations, but don't necessarily need actual care provided, Nazemi explained.
When consumers choose the "find care" option, a search engine appears that allows them to look for doctors, hospitals, medications and other terms. "But it also treats humans like human beings," Nazemi said, adding that Oscar doesn't expect consumers to know exactly what type of care they need. So the search engine can translate entries like "I can't sleep" or "My tummy hurts" into actionable results.
Show actionable results
When typing "asthma" into the search engine, a consumer will see a brief description of the condition and a list of different ways to receive care, including physician visit, urgent care clinic and emergency room. It also describes each type of provider and service as well as a range of costs for provider type.
There's also information about what type of services usually occur at each provider type, including physician consult, lab tests or minor procedures, and corresponding costs the member would be responsible for if they select that option.
Upon choosing a provider type, the system then loads map results, defaulting to doctors in the Oscar network who have treated patients with asthma. Consumers can personalize the results even further to locate doctors with more training or doctors who frequently see patients in the same age range, for example.
Then, contact and address information is provided for each provider type so the consumer can reach out directly for care.