A new digital healthcare system is emerging. These recent shifts in the healthcare industry are rapid, especially post-pandemic. How the industry responds to consumers’ new expectations and changing needs could unlock huge value for the healthcare insurance ecosystem.
An unlikely hero, insurance is poised to play an important role in future benefits to the consumer. Why? The insurance industry is the glue that brings together payers, providers, and consumers.
In the near term, business models can capitalize on the benefits of digital technology while meeting a changing set of consumer demands. This shift can also help create trust while encouraging a more personalized relationship between consumers and insurers.
Embrace Alternate Care Models
While insurance has always rewarded consumers who actively seek preventive care, employers and insurers alike can do more to connect people with the resources they need and provide them with the coverage to do so.
For example, many consumers have defaulted to using the hospital, specifically the emergency room, as their go-to resource for receiving treatment. However, in a primary care physician-led model, patients are in more frequent communication with their PCP and will work with them to find the right place for treatment (which is often not the hospital).
Customize Patient Care with Technology
Additionally, there are untold opportunities to customize healthcare based on information patients can easily collect outside the office visit.
Wearable technology like smartwatches, medical wellness apps and other off-the-shelf, consumer-friendly devices allow patients and physicians to track and monitor health outside of visits.
When coupled with education, patients have a better appreciation of their data, and patients can feel empowered to decide when to contact a physician for care.
Treat Mind and Body
The future of healthcare will depend on treating both mind and body. For example, in the past year, consumers who sought mental health treatment will expect to do so at their convenience and with the same level of coverage as during the pandemic.
As with wearables and the plethora of new health and wellness focused apps, technology can also help to fill in gaps here. There are various apps available to support patients’ health and wellness outside the office, covering therapy, meditation, meal tracking, fitness and more.
Of course, not all apps will meet the medical community’s standards, but if providers can vet these apps for legitimacy, they can provide patients with additional tools to take control of their health.
Encourage Positive Outcomes Through Insurance
Flexibility is vital when thinking ahead to healthcare consumers’ future needs. In addition, insurers need to consider offering their customers an interconnected array of services that extend beyond insurance to continue to encourage positive outcomes.
Designing a healthcare plan that integrates modern, ubiquitous, patient-friendly technology can make healthcare feel more accessible to patients. Coupling this with guiding patients to high-quality, lower costs caregivers that embrace technology is the shining star.
This shift can also help create trust and encourage a more personalized relationship between consumers and insurers both now and in the future.
Terry Rowinski is president of Health Payment Systems Inc., a health care payments company