Tech drives member engagement, closes provider feedback loop

By using the latest technology, health insurers can take the lead in improving the feedback loop between payers, providers and patients, Gerald Shields from consulting firm The Nolan Company wrote in Insurance & Technology.

Shields cited zero effort to obtain feedback and nonexistent communication from his daughter's insurance company and healthcare providers in the weeks and months during and after her hospitalization for a critical procedure.

In this digital age, payers should be taking advantage of technology to enhance customer intimacy and advocacy, the article noted. "Both the provider and the payer need to harness technology, link the patient to a higher level of service, and create more meaningful relationships that can actually affect outcomes," Shields wrote.

To improve their digital engagement with consumers, insurance companies must embrace social media, mobile devices, cloud computing and other digital offerings to focus on what their customers want instead of what they can offer to their customers, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For example, insurers' case management efforts need technology to drive better customer engagement--typically the claimant (not patient or person) contacts the medical management case manager via a 1-800 number, leaves a message and waits for a return call, Shields noted.

But case managers have the potential to foster powerful payer-patient relationships by helping patients manage their benefits, arrange care and find resources, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. To create personal relationships with patients, email, private portals or mobile apps must enable near real-time communication between case managers and patients, Insurance & Technology noted. Insurers also would be wise to use such technology tools to start conversations before a claims issue even occurs.

Recognizing the need for (and lack of) consumer feedback, Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross's new innovation center aims to figure out what tools will reveal how consumers feel about the provider environment. Technology plays a role in getting that customer feedback, especially in terms of data mining and data crunching, IBC Vice President of Corporate Development and Innovation Terry Booker told FierceHealthPayer in an interview earlier this year.

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