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Mobile Apps Bridge the Patient-Provider Gap


Why a new health platform is a signal that healthcare executives need to rethink how consumers are motivated to live healthier lives.

Using a tablet with a healthcare app

Blue Shield of California’s rollout of a new digitally-based lifestyle medicine and health platform that can be personalized to each of its members’ individual health needs and preferences is a signal that healthcare executives need to rethink how consumers are motivated to live healthier lives.

The health plan's Wellvolution whole-health platform, created in collaboration with Solera Health, provides members guided on-demand access to a tailored network of clinically proven applications using lifestyle to prevent, treat, and even reverse disease. The program is available at no cost to members enrolled in Blue Shield's fully insured employer-sponsored plans or its individual and family plans.

Blue Shield's new platform gives its members access to a network of health-management and wellness resources that address:

  • Sleep quality

  • Stress management

  • Physical activity

  • Diet and nutrition

  • Tobacco cessation

  • Cardio-metabolic disease prevention (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, etc.)

  • Chronic condition reversal

“It’s clear that organizations are turning to mobile apps to support care and self-monitoring and further bridge the gap between consumers and medical professionals,” says Erin Fitzgerald, SVP of marketing at SERMO, a global social platform for physicians and healthcare professional survey company based in New York.

“Oftentimes, healthcare companies roll out siloed programs that have various barriers of entry,” she says. “Then, a meeting will be held once a year to go over resources and benefits only to be quickly forgotten. Because apps are a part of a consumer’s everyday life, this is a better approach to really integrate and promote workplace wellness in a more impactful and meaningful way. In fact, our platform has seen an uptick in the number of physicians discussing healthcare apps. Physicians are posting to get peer opinions on whether or not they should recommend certain healthcare applications to their own patients.”

Related: Patients Want Mobile Healthcare Options

Fitzgerald explains that partnerships will also be a key to moving forward.

“It’s not always about reinventing the wheel but leveraging what works and removing what doesn’t,” she says. “It’s also important for executives to listen to consumers and give them choices. Healthcare is not a one-size-fits-all industry, which we’ve experienced on our own platform. Some physicians use SERMO for crowdsourcing while others use it to participate in research or talk to peers. Additionally, marketing mobile apps to physicians is just as important as marketing them to consumers since there’s a lot of word-of-mouth and recommendations happening within the industry.”

With the recent release of Apple’s ECG app, SERMO surveyed its online community of 800,000 fully verified and licensed physicians to find out what physicians really think about the potential of mobile apps. Among other findings, data collected from 180 physicians revealed that:

  • 53% have concerns with people using this tech

  • 67% are not comfortable with a patient regularly relying solely on this tech

  • 89% see potential in this tech 

  • 74% would recommend that a patient with previous heart conditions use this tech
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