As a primary care doctor in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, I have been searching for the holy grail of patient engagement for over 15 years. My journey began with alpha-numeric pager and a medical degree. I shared my pager number with my patients along with a pledge to call them back within 15-minutes, 24-hours a day. My communications evolved into email and texting, with the predicate that by enhancing communication, I could carefully guide my patients down the byzantine corridors of healthcare – with a high probability we could avoid mistakes – if they would agree to share the ownership of their treatment plan. My life’s work has been where the rubber meets the road; where doctors interface with patients: office, hospital, home or smartphone.
Technology has washed over almost every industry and transformed it, radically. Healthcare is on the precipice of destiny. The wave is here.
Over the past three decades healthcare has lurched from one existential crisis to another; often manifested by an acronym solution: HMO, ACO, PCMH, P4P, PQRS; each a valiant attempt to reign in costs and solve for aligning incentives. However, we can’t have hospitals, doctors, health systems and payers accountable to healthy outcomes if the 300,000,000 people (patients) are not paramount to the equation.
If you haven’t been paying close attention, ‘patient engagement’ is a white-hot topic in healthcare these days. It wasn’t sexy 5 years ago. In fact, at the keynote speech at HIMSS 13 (the national Health IT conference), it was announced that the “The blockbuster drug of the 21st century is Patient Engagement”.
If you spend time with health insurance companies there is a lot of discussion about the impact that mobile and social will have on their business ranging from how they market to how they empower consumers to better manage their health. These discussions are not just tactical. They strike at the heart of the transformation that health insurance companies are making to stay competitive, relevant, and attractive for the consumer who is ever more confused, skeptical and apathetic but increasingly powerful. Which health insurance companies are making the early investments in consumer engagement? The EveryMove 100 Health Insurance Index™ launched today to dive into that conversation.
The EveryMove 100 is a list of the top 100 health insurance companies that are making significant strides in engaging with consumers to help them take better control of their health as a partner in health versus just a processor of medical claims. The intent here is to extend the influence of the consumer as they wade into new territory as individually empowered decision makers, whether through state, federal or employer exchanges. The Index evaluated over 50 data elements and over 300 health insurance companies to determine the ranking.
The five primary categories the Index evaluated included:
Social media presence and interactions (breadth and depth of engagement)
Customer support access (availability/ease of access)
Current consumer satisfaction (what are current members saying)
As you can see this is not an index designed to pass judgment on the quality of the network, timeliness of paying claims, care management efficacy, or other operational metrics. Plenty of other rankings will provide that insight and they are important. The EveryMove 100 is about which health insurance companies are making the investments to win the hearts and minds of the consumer who is going to look for a health insurance partner that makes them feel connected, important, and part of the solution.
Industry studies confirm the strong connection between healthcare costs and the ingrained behavior of consumers and providers. Ironically, consumers and providers have access to more health information, tools, programs and support than ever before; yet healthcare costs continue to increase and chronic diseases continue to affect a larger portion of the population.
The healthcare industry is at an inflection point where payers, employers, providers and consumers must all be directly involved in the effort to manage the cost of care and to improve health outcomes. A critical aspect of this effort involves the motivation and behavior of all healthcare market participants, but primarily applies to the healthcare consumer and provider at the point of care delivery.
To drive engagement in programs designed to improve health, organizations have applied both incentives and disincentives, with varying degrees of success, as part of an overall engagement strategy. Generally, the presence of an incentive leads to improved results, but most incentive designs have fallen short of their potential. But some valuable lessons have been learned.
The healthcare industry has learned, for example, that incentives can drive behavior change, and can help establish a new baseline for consumer expectations, consumption patterns and health awareness. In turn, this newfound awareness has the potential to address the root causes of the nation’s healthcare crisis, leading to a more rational care model and slower rate of health cost increases.
More importantly, the well-intentioned but haphazard evolution of the application of incentives to various healthcare initiatives has yielded a robust volume of actual performance and cost-related information that can finally provide reliable links between program participation, behavior change, health outcomes and cost savings; and all of the necessary data to determine return on investment.