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Health Care Management in a Digital World

By Jennifer S. Kiesewetter, Esq. | Jul 19, 2017

Health care management has experienced a multitude of changes over the past few years — and those changes don't seem to be subsiding anytime soon. With funds concerned about managing overall costs of health care benefits, member engagement is a hot topic. The more involved a member is with his or her health care, the better health outcomes he or she experiences, thus impacting cost savings for the plan. But what is member engagement? And how can it be improved through the use of technology?

Member Engagement

According to Deloitte, member or patient engagement is generally defined "as the actions individuals take to become better informed and more directly and proactively involved in decisions and behaviors that affect their health, insurance coverage and health care." Engagement actions can include looking for information to learn about a health condition, taking action steps to monitor health and following prescribed treatment plans.

Deloitte reported that higher consumer action in these areas can lead to lower use of emergency rooms, an increased use of preventive care and lower health costs.

Trends in Technology Implementation

Implementing technology for members isn't a one-size-fits-all approach, as Deloitte explained. Consumers use technology based on their age, their health issues and their health goals. For example, technology usage differs greatly between the primary three working generations when considering acute illnesses. Overall, 60 percent of millennials use health care technology, with Generation X coming in second at 53 percent and baby boomers with 49 percent.

The report noted that 68 percent of those who used health care technology had acute illnesses. For those concerned about monitoring health goals, technology use has increased from 17 percent to 28 percent, with millennials leading the way. Six out of 10 users reported technology tool use had a significant impact on their behavior. Another 77 percent of millennials noted that the technology helped improve their health, while 70 percent of those suffering a major chronic condition felt the same.

What to Consider When Implementing Technology

By 2020, approximately 50 percent of the workforce will be made up of millennials, according to a report from Wells Fargo. Funds should consider how the different generations engage in health care, so they can develop a strategic plan for implementation, engagement, retention, productivity and member satisfaction. Further, almost 50 percent of the U.S. population suffers from a chronic condition. Understanding technology options for those with these conditions will enable members to become more engaged in controlling their symptoms.

Trustees must be engaged in providing these resources to members. If there's lack of information on these services, then there will be no use of these tools. Appropriate education is crucial to allow for the necessary shifts in behavior to use this technology. By understanding the current trends in health care management through technology, funds can help improve the well-being of members and experience cost reductions in health coverage.

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