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Technology and Innovation Transforming Health Care

By Tom Miller, SVP & CIO, Anthem [NYSE: ANTM]

Tom Miller, SVP & CIO, Anthem [NYSE: ANTM]

What are three of the most consumer-friendly companies that come to mind?

I’m betting you may have thought of Amazon or Starbucks or War by Parker—companies that are constantly finding ways to refine the consumer experience—from shopping to payment to delivery. Consumer-focused companies not only want to make it more convenient but intuitive, leaving the consumer impressed and satisfied. I’m also betting that there is an entire industry sector that may not come to mind: healthcare.

"Technology and innovation are leading the way in creating a more consumer-centered health care experience"

At Anthem Inc., our companies are aiming to change that. It does not get any more personal or high stakes than your health and well-being. And your interactions with your health benefits company should reflect that.

Our goal is to leverage new technologies to create better consumer interactions that transform the health care experience. Advancements in mobile technology, the Internet of Things, cloud services, social platforms and cognitive computing are offering new opportunities to redefine health care interactions. When thoughtfully applied, these new capabilities create experiences that are more seamless, personalized, real time, and interactive—attributes that consumers value in this digital age.

Americans want more convenience. We already do most of our banking online, order dinner from our smart phones and even schedule our workouts through apps. So, why would we not expect to pay our health insurance premiums online, manage our health and wellness from our smart phones, and schedule doctor appointments through apps? Better yet, how about connecting with a doctor from your own living room any time of day or night via LiveHealth Online? That is convenience.

More patients are receiving not only a prescription for their diagnosis, but also instructions to download an app that will help them manage their symptom. Doctors and health care providers are increasingly “prescribing” apps and enlisting the help of smart devices to help manage their patients’ health. Nowadays, the health care community is regarding digital health as a way to boost patient engagement and treatment compliance while lowering health care costs. This digital transformation is at the heart of Anthem’s consumer engagement strategy.

This transformation is powered by technology and big data. By tapping into many data resources— claims information, online member interactions, wearable devices, customer service phone calls and provider partnerships—health insurers can create a more personal and meaningful experience for consumers. Tools like improved natural language processing can quickly clarify the characteristics of a member benefits. Cognitive computing and software robotics apply machine intelligence to authorize care, process claims, and identify potential fraud cases.

Using enhanced data analytics and technology can help identify care gaps earlier to help prevent costly emergency health events, offer providers patient management dashboards that flag disease management opportunities and potential drug interactions, and give health plan members access to applications that better manage their benefits, family medical appointments and chronic health conditions.

There are challenges to earning consumer trust and maintaining a high level of brand reputation in an area health benefits companies do not normally excel—ease of use and understanding. However, by offering smart solutions that allows consumers to educate themselves on their health and well-being, while prompting them to get preventive care and make informed decisions, health benefits companies can ultimately deliver value to consumers and, together with providers, help improve patient outcomes.

Health insurers must prove to consumers that they can be counted on for support from the moment consumers choose a health plan. For new members, tools like welcome videos that offer a personalized walk-through of their benefits, what they can expect from their health plan and their responsibilities as a plan member can help consumers acclimate quickly. Once they have become a member, health insurance companies can guide consumers when making important health decisions.

It is important to offer consumers the information they need to make educated decisions—such as cost comparison tools that also provide quality information on providers. Getting knee surgery? Costs vary widely depending on the provider, and higher prices do not necessarily mean higher quality. By giving consumers this type of transparency, health insurers can earn consumers’ trust and confidence and build brand reputation. Technology and innovation are leading the way in creating a more consumer-centered health care experience.

We are all in this together—the complexity and high cost of health care impacts every American. By investing in technologies and solutions that allow consumers to take a more active role in their health, health care companies can directly impact the experience and the cost of care. By simplifying and personalizing health care, someday when asked to name consumer-friendly companies, health care companies will come to mind.

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