Catalyst for Payment Reform

How consumers are engaging in their health – one app at a time

How consumers are engaging in their health – one app at a time

Nowadays, our smartphones and other devices constantly flood our minds with notifications, so much so that phone makers are rolling out ways to get you to put your phone down. While notifications generally carry a negative connotation, there’s potential that red flags and reminders can provide value to patients in the health tech context.

What is health tech and why is it important? Health tech, a phrase interchangeable with digital health, utilizes technology to improve the payment and delivery system efficiency and to increase consumer engagement. Unlike other disrupting industries which take years to mature or gain sizable impact, health tech has grown enormously over recent years, seeing rapidly growing investment and innovation in the space.

This rapid uptake of technology in health care to streamline and improve the current system is evidence that consumers are ready and responsive to new technology and digital solutions that will prioritize convenience, efficiency, and connectivity.

With Millennial consumers, aka the first generation of digital natives, now representing one third of the labor market (more than any other generation), the upward trending demand for health tech solutions is likely to continue. Begging the question for employers and purchasers- how do you plan to adjust your health care benefit strategy to meet your consumer’s new needs?

So what should employers be on the look out for this year? And how can you join the digital health revolution?

According to research from Castlight Health, employers are primarily setting their sights on digital solutions for employee assistance programs, diabetes prevention and management, smoking cessation, and telemedicine. Recently, we heard how Google enhanced their on-site clinic solution with an in-app experience that lets Googlers text or video call the on-site provider team. What unites these solutions is their cost effectiveness: the solutions can be implemented without breaking the bank or overloading your capacity to manage point solution vendors.

On the flip side, employees are also abundantly enthusiastic about digital health solutions, even without nudges from their employers.  Whether the employee is a Baby Boomer or Millennial, 98% of employees have utilized health technology for a health goal. Employees are so enthusiastic about digital health solutions, whether motivated by the latest trends or their desire to achieve better health, that they’re willing to access these directly on the consumer market if need be, even paying out of pocket if need be. Take Talkspace, for example, a direct to consumer mental health app that provides online therapy through a smart phone app for $49/week that seems to be going strong, even while competitors never made it off the ground. By only accepting out of pocket payments, the app shows the ever-growing direct to consumer market.

There’s no question that health care is headed towards digitization and tech. Implementing technology-based health care solutions has the potential to expand access to care, to standardize care delivery, and to automate administrative and payment burdens- aiding in efforts to control health care spending. But most importantly, health tech is about enhancing the user experience, creating a way for consumers to actually want to engage with their health care providers. The key to making the investments worthwhile will be effectively communicating the availability of new solutions and encouraging employee uptake, aligning employer and employee interests towards a healthier future.

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