Driving business value through mobile in the health insurance industry

By Jason Wang/ Published on March 10, 2016

This is the first in a series of posts.

Our health insurance customers tell us that they face intense business challenges. Government mandates are pushing costs up and reducing profitability. Health insurance leaders are consolidating (e.g., Aetna’s $37 billion acquisition of Humana) into fewer, larger companies, in an effort to leverage economies of scale and scope to drive down their cost structures. Indeed, some industry executives and CFOs predict, “Big is going to be better. Small is not going to survive.” With these pressures, health insurance companies must find ways to survive and thrive.

One key tactic that many are pursuing is to build and leverage mobile technology to help their business. The potential seems clear: people use their smartphones in ever-increasing facets of their lives. Why wouldn’t they use mobile to interact with their health insurer? For younger (healthier) people, the potential for mobile is even stronger. As a result, many of our customers and prospects seek to build and launch a mobile app to attract and retain members.

Despite the potential, launching a mobile app is not a silver bullet. For a variety of reasons (which we’ll explore in a later post), the effect of a mobile health app tends to be hit or miss. Some tell us that they have launched apps and found low uptake and interest from users, little in the way of business value. Others (often accounts we work with) launch apps and updated modern web portals that they find achieve many concrete benefits - from lower user support costs to increased member satisfaction to increased retention of users in the face of strong competition.

Why are some mobile health insurance apps successful in driving business value and others are not?

At TrueVault, we have a point of view on this question. At the most basic level, we believe mobile health insurance apps that deliver greater value to users will tend to have a greater business impact than those mobile apps with low value. This is is an obvious statement so let’s drill into this a bit.

From a user’s point of view, we find that mobile users expect to be able to conduct all interactions effectively via mobile. That means a mobile user expects to be able to purchase airline, sporting event, or movie tickets, book and pay for an Uber, update a LinkedIn profile, watch an NBA basketball game, or any number of other activities all within the native mobile application they are using.

Applying this to a mobile health insurance application then, the question we focus on is what are the actions or use cases that your users can complete via a mobile app. Some (too many) mobile health insurance apps do very little of value: perhaps they show you your health insurance card or the address of a nearby pharmacy. Neither of these are high value: users can easily take a photo of their insurance cards and Google the address of the closest pharmacy. As a result, it’s not a surprise that few users adopt apps of this sort.

On the other hand, we work with health insurance companies to launch mobile apps that provide a rich set of targeted value.Use cases such as updated claim statuses, doctor scheduling, year-to-date updates on deductibles, out-of-pocket, integrated customer service, and others all deliver the type of end-to-end value that mobile users expect. With this higher value mobile app, users can interact with their health insurer through their device of choice, at the time and place that they want, and complete whatever activities they find most valuable at that time.This high value mobile health insurance application is leading to our customers finding real business value, in the form of lower member support costs and higher member satisfaction and retention.

If you are a health insurance company seeking to gain business value through a mobile health application, then TrueVault has a solution that you should learn more about.Briefly, we offer a software platform and application framework that can get you into market quickly with a high value mobile health insurance app, with your branding and look and feel. We can enable all the features of a high value offering, including claim status, doctor scheduling, and so forth, and our offering is HIPAA compliant out of the box.

In later parts to this series, we will discuss further about how the TrueVault platform, on which our mobile health insurance app is built, can help you extend beyond a mobile health insurance app. TrueVault is not a mobile agency; we are a software company. Our platform serves as the foundation for the mobile health app we are discussing here, but the potential to leverage that platform to do more is far greater. In later posts, we will discuss how the TrueVault platform can enable things like data exchanges, telemedicine, and other emerging technology efforts at health insurance companies.

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