More payers using consumer technology to engage plan members

By Mike Miliard
10:56 AM

Health insurers are embracing social media, mobile health applications and even games as they position themselves for accountable care and try to encourage their members to take more interest in their wellness, according to a new report from Chilmark Research.

Having long struggled to get members to change unhealthy behaviors with only mixed results, payers are now leveraging innovative, easy-to-use consumer technologies to increase the success of their member engagement strategies, say Chilmark researchers. While most of the projects are still in the early-going, some are showing promise, according to the report.

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"The passage of the Affordable Care Act is forcing a major restructuring of the healthcare sector and health insurers must innovate to demonstrate value to their customers (employers) and improve margins," said John Moore, founder and managing partner of Chilmark Research. "As the industry shifts from a fee-for-service to outcomes-based reimbursement models, insurers are implementing several strategies to survive in this new world order."

The study, titled "Benchmark Report: Payer Adoption of Emerging Consumer Tech," examines more than 40 programs where insurers are putting common consumer technologies – such as social media, games and mobile apps – to work to encourage consumers to participate in wellness and disease management programs.

[See also: ONC looks to grow the power of health gaming.]
The Chilmark report finds that improvements in these consumer technologies, their growing adoption and use and the introduction of low-cost, biometric devices are making it easier for health insurers to see results from their deployment. Many payers are partnering with third parties or developing applications in-house. A few have even acquired software companies.
Still, said Moore, "the industry is still very much in the early-innovator, adoption stage. The vast majority of health insurers remain sitting on the sidelines."

For more on the report, click here.