What if your daily fitness goals were sent to your cell phone and achieving these goals made you eligible for premium discounts on your health insurance plan? What if payers were able to track your progress toward an illness and recommend tests via a mobile app?

A few years ago, such scenarios might have seemed outlandish but due to the rate that payers are embracing consumer engagement, these scenarios are becoming a distinct reality. Payers are heavily considering mobile healthcare IT technologies for managing their risk pool and improving overall care outcomes.

Tracing Footsteps of Mobile in Healthcare Technology
Progression toward mobile-fueled healthcare probably started with mobile-optimized websites that offered a few applications for viewing personal plan details or posing queries. Slowly, more healthcare organizations started investing in applications that connected consumers with their care providers like in-network primary care physicians. With the onset of healthcare reform, holistic care has become an objective for most payers and mobile technologies offer some impressive solutions. Before the current healthcare reforms, applications that could list in-plan provider facilities were gaining attention. However, they didn’t have a nationwide presence. Now with the consumer-caregiver relationship being emphasized by the Affordable Care Act, dedicated mobile apps from payers enabling better coordinated care might become a standard feature.

Today, many health plans are in the process of standardizing their mobile offerings. This includes allowing the user to log into electronic health records, schedule an appointment, check for in-network specialists, read lab results, order refills and get updates about any changes in out-of-pocket expenses. Some analysts say that this form of digital engagement had to happen because mobile tech now forms an integral part of our daily schedules. However, some opine that this is a critical part of how payers can ensure better quality of care and lower their quotient of risk.

Mobile Healthcare Technology Offers Undeniable Benefits to Subscribers& Payers
Just imagine a scenario where a care coordinator needs to repeatedly remind the subscriber about an upcoming screening for diabetic retinopathy. Traditionally, this would involve an actual person making the call. Using mobile technology, payers can convey the same message, cheaply and effortlessly, i.e. by sending reminders via an app. Timely testing can prevent the onset of an expensive-to-treat medical condition like retinopathy that often leads to surgeries and extensive follow-up care. This underlines the advantage mobile tech offers to payers and consumers.

4 Aspects of Using Mobile Healthcare Technology

1. Making it Personal—there is a plethora of health and fitness information on the web that can be conveyed via mobile apps. However, payers can raise their consumer engagement levels by providing customized health information. This means the insured gets updates, news, advice and expert opinions about health conditions that existed in his past, are currently being treated or are most likely to develop considering the overall health/fitness status. When consumers have more meaningful health information at their fingertips, they are more likely to use it. Better lifestyle habits contribute significantly toward reducing ER visits and the onset of chronic diseases.

2. Creating a POS—mobile technology can also be used for creating an alternative point of service. This means creating an online medium where rather than person-to-person interaction, consumer-to-mobile communication is encouraged. Without dialing or being kept on hold over the phone, consumers can get answers to their queries, including their premium calculations, supplementary/add-on plan choices, etc.

3. Using Mobile Data for Improving Outcome of Care—the healthcare industry often seems overwhelmed with data. Getting on the mobile platform can help in consolidation and convergence of data. When combined with data analytics, mobile tech can accurately point toward healthcare preferences of the insured pool, lifestyle habits that pose a significant risk and regionally predominant health problems. Mobile innovations can significantly improve the outcome of care, particularly management of diseases. Consider a case of juvenile food allergies. If an app could scan food ingredients on food labels and alert to possible allergens, ER admissions for recurring allergic reactions could be prevented.

Mobile Healthcare Technology: Providing Bang for the Buck
Yes, developing or buying a mobile application does present some upfront costs. However, the savings are incurred as soon as consumers start using it. Some health plans have started carrying out membership surveys to discern the most in demand functionalities. Commonly the network health facility finder and lab test results displayers often emerge as heavy favorites.

Maximizing Gains from Mobile Digitization
Using digital health apps might create a need for health plans to recruit professionals who can process information in real time. This means healthcare IT professionals who can understand inbound data received via apps to answer and index it. Digitization of patient information provides the unique advantage of tracking and location confirmation. This could help reduce healthcare fraud that annually costs Medicare around $60 billion. Undoubtedly, information exchanged via mobile needs to be backed with a capable healthcare software solution to ensure that patient information is captured effectively and protected. With the reforms emphasizing on empowering the consumer, adopting mobile tech seems like a smart and safe option for payers. Do you agree with our opinion?

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