Retailization of healthcare creates an opportunity for health plans to leverage technology to give patients the same customer experiences they would receive from their bank or favorite department store. Technology experts predict that more plans will take advantage of this technology in 2017, as they ramp up marketing efforts.
“Health plans are catching up to trends that are underway in other industries. We see this with the move toward building a more retail-like experience for consumers—becoming a data-driven practice of medicine,” says David Nace, chief medical officer of MarkLogic, a database that integrates, stores, manages, and searches data. “However, moving in this direction does require a paradigm shift in how plans think about their data and the technologies that they use to leverage it.”
Here are four technology solutions your health plan should be exploring:
1. Tech that attracts members
Susan Yeazel, national healthcare principal at Point B, a management consultancy, says that the variety of customers health plans are marketing to makes it challenging to create effective consumer-marketing strategies—but it’s not impossible.
“As critical to who, when it comes to customer experience, is what—the circumstances that bring the customer and the health plan together at a specific point in time,” Yeazel says. “These elements must be considered in an agile framework that will determine the customer experience, and which forms the foundation of the opportunities facing health plans. As the combinations of these elements are considered, landing on those most meaningful to customers can be daunting but, in a consumer driven market, there is increasing expectation that health plans deliver everything from one-touch digital to high-touch compassionate sales and service, based on customer needs and preferences.”
To meet this growing expectation, health plans can look to other progressive industries to better use the existing data they have, and ramp up mobile applications to reach patients with pertinent information and keep them engaged.
“The retail and financial services industries are models for health plan observation,” Yeazel says. “Retail has clearly made enormous progress in both anticipating and customizing the purchase experience and, in some cases, the service experience. Financial services is an important model because of the similarities to health plans in terms of the strict regulatory requirements for privacy and data security.”
2. Tech that assists members
Plans have access to vast amounts of patient data, including income, education, housing, and social services data that is not typically stored in electronic health records. This data, coupled with health information, gives health plans the opportunity to market to patients holistically, Nace says.
“More recently, health plans are benefiting from new data technologies that provide a 360 view of all the information regarding a consumer, and can present the information in a meaningful, understandable, and ‘plain English’ fashion,” Nace says. “When consumers contact their health plan by phone, by e-mail, text, fax, or in person, they expect to have answers around their benefit coverage, financial responsibilities, providers that are available, and programs and tools that benefit them.”
Often, this information is in a wide variety of databases and systems within the payer environment, however, it is not immediately accessible as a complete view of everything related to what the consumer needs to know.