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TECHNOLOGY: Are consumer health plan web sites finally taking off? Matt Quinn doubts it!

Interesting blurb on consumer use of health plan web sites from Manhattan Research. Matt Quinn writes:

I haven’t read the whole study, but I feel that it significantly overstates the case: 21.9 million Americans using health plan web sites for anything isn’t critical mass… and significant hurdles (specifically in the area of of organizing and providing access to information) still exist with the vast majority of plan web sites to make them useful for what most consumers want (the ability to make decisions on cost, among other things).

I feel that the principal difference between plan websites today and a couple of years ago is the amount of stuff that they provide for their members. There is a lot more of it on most sites. The jury is still out as to whether the stuff that they are providing is accomplishing any of the goals of e-health: making consumers loyal to their plans, achieving administrative efficiencies by reducing call center volume, making patients healthier, or attracting new employer customers through competitive differentiation (an employer chooses a plan based on its e-health offering vs. strictly on price). Although it’s a managed care organization and not a plan, per se, but Group Health Cooperative is doing many of the above and is actively differentiating with its e-health offering.

Maybe things have radically changed in the couple of months since I was knee deep in this stuff, but I don’t think so.

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