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Anthem joins AI-driven effort to improve pricing transparency

Anthem Blue Cross and Stanford University hope to lead the way in using artificial intelligence to tackle price transparency and other healthcare concerns.

Jeff Rowe | Mar 26, 2019 03:06 pm

While most of the focus on AI may be due to its significant potential to change the way healthcare is delivered, health insurers stand to benefit as well.

To that end, Anthem Blue Cross recently announced it will become the first founding member of a new Stanford University-based collaboration to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

The AI for Health Affiliation program is a corporate affiliates initiative spearheaded by the Stanford Department of Computer Science, and it will explore how to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence strategies to improve the efficiency of care delivery for both payers and providers.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with Stanford researchers in this work,” said Rajeev Ronanki, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Anthem, Inc., in an announcement. “At Anthem we realize the importance of collaboration in advancing AI technologies to create a better healthcare experience for all Americans.”

The insurance payer, which, with its affiliated health plans, offers insurance products in almost a dozen states, will collaborate with Stanford researchers to better understand the role of AI for increasing price transparency, fostering patient engagement, and helping members make more informed choices about spending and wellness.

In particular, say stakeholders, price transparency will be the first area of focus for the collaboration, given that both payers and providers are finding it challenging to offer meaningful information about out-of-pocket spending to consumers. 

Many payers are working to increase price transparency on the provider side in an effort to raise consumer satisfaction and retain market share in a very competitive environment.

“When a consumer or his/her family is sick, understanding insurance and financial liability should be least of their concerns, the focus should be on getting the needed treatment,” said Ronanki.

Automating the delivery of pricing information through AI-driven apps or other tools could improve consumer decision-making and reduce costs across the care continuum.

“AI Health will build tools and technologies that will help make it easier for the consumer to understand their options and make an informed decision,” Ronanki said.