Let’s Talk: Health Plans Want to Connect Online, Do You?

While health plans develop apps to help members stay in touch and get information quickly, it turns out those who use a smartphone to stay in touch are pretty happy. “Overall member satisfaction is 108 points higher among members who have contacted their plan via mobile app at least once in the past 12 months than among those who haven't,” according to a J.D. Power survey.

Digital natives, naturally, use the apps more than their older counterparts, but the old-fashioned tried-and-true communications standby remains the top way to connect across all age groups: The telephone. “While members under 40 years old contact their plan via text and mobile app at a significantly higher rate than older members, the telephone is still the most frequently used contact method across all age cohorts,” according to the survey.

A Cognizant survey found 84% of respondents said they’d rather contact their health plan digitally. Much of the digital contact revolves around information about plan features, cost comparisons among plans and bill paying.

C’mon, Get Appy

Although apps would seem a good investment for health plans, 67% have fewer than 100,000 downloads, according to a 2015 report from Research 2 Guidance. (Very few apps have had the success of Aetna’s iTriage app, which has been downloaded 15 million times, or UnitedHealthcare’s Health4Me app, downloaded 1.4 million times.) There’s a consumer desire for well-thought-out apps designed to provide information and improve the member experience, but health plan members appear slow to adopt.

Nevertheless, adoption of health-related apps continues to grow among all adults 18 years and older, according to new research. Forty-six percent of adults use some type of healthcare app today, compared to 36 percent in 2016. These numbers support the growing healthcare consumer trend of patients who are continually looking for more to better control their health and health spending. Apps can help them do this. It’s just a matter of time before an app, perhaps one not built by a health insurer, brings more users, more consistently into the fold as they begin monitoring all aspects of health via smartphones.
 
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7/5/2018 4:09:01 AM

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