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Technology to meet the growth of health care

By Richard Fuchs | Aug 22, 2016

Technology to meet the growth of health care

As members of our society live longer, health care spending grows. Nationally, that spending is projected to grow 5.3% this year alone — reaching 6.3% in 2020.1 With the increased demand for health care, technology has become an important way to reach consumers and give them access to high-quality health care when and where they need it.

“Consumers are changing, and with the prevalence of mobile technology, they have instantaneous access to information. Labor is evolving with consumer needs and the health care industry, as trust funds are increasingly focused on ways to deliver innovative, top-notch service to their members.”

 

Here are just a few ways technology is making it easier for members to find high-quality care conveniently and affordably:

Comparing costs

Most patients don’t know how much a surgery or test will cost until after they get an explanation of benefits from their insurer. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association released a study earlier this year showing big variations in the cost of certain surgeries, even in the same geographic area. In Boston, for example, a total hip replacement can cost anywhere from $17,910 to $74,000. Now patients can use technology tools to make real-time price comparisons (based on actual claims data) so they have an estimate of their deductible and out-of-pocket expenses before surgery.

Rewarding doctors for quality care

Health insurers are working closely with doctors to transform the medical delivery system from one that pays them for the number of tests, visits and procedures to one that rewards doctors for helping patients stay healthy. This means doctors are now looped into claims data to get a broader view of their patients’ health. Anthem Inc. recently launched its Enhanced Personal Health Care program, which has overhauled how it pays primary care doctors. The results have been positive.

Getting to a doctor quickly

Going to see a doctor can be time-consuming. That’s why many trust funds are using technology such as telehealth. With LiveHealth Online, video visits with a doctor are available within minutes, 24/7, on a smartphone, tablet or computer with a webcam. Trustees and members are also discovering on-site and near-site health clinics that offer acute and preventive care, behavior and occupational health care, first aid services and pharmacy. These clinics help members see a doctor quickly and conveniently. This is especially helpful for union members in remote and rural areas.

Using smartphones to get information

Almost two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, according to Pew Internet Research. Consumers expect to be able to find what they need instantly. We’ve made it easy for our members to use their smartphones to:

  • Get to their benefit information quickly.
  • Find the nearest in-network urgent care or hospital.
  • Look up current out-of-pocket maximum expenses.
  • Access their ID cards electronically.

Smartphones are also being used to send text messages to patients who have missed critical tests.

 

These are just a few of the many innovations in health care designed to give consumers and trust funds new ways to control health care costs, improve communication and elevate the quality of care. For more information on the ways Anthem is using technology to make it easier for members, talk to your Sales representative.

 


1. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website: NHE Fact Sheet (accessed November 2015): cms.gov.

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