3 ways going digital can power up your clients' health plan

Digital technologies continue to reshape our world. As hundreds of millions of people worldwide use smartphones and other digital devices to communicate, buy, sell, learn, and be entertained[1], these technologies are ushering in a new era of consumerism that’s transforming industry after industry – health care is no exception.

Today’s consumers have never been more empowered — or more motivated — to make the health care decisions that work for them.

Consider these trends:

  • While 66 percent of consumers say they are satisfied with their core health plan benefits, only 49 percent are satisfied with their overall consumer experience[2].

  • With the average deductible for employees growing by more than 120 percent in the last decade, consumers now directly control $330 billion annually in out-of-pocket health care expenses, and the choices they make have the potential to affect 61 percent of health care spending[3]

“Harnessing the potential of digital technologies in the health sector means recognizing that consumers have more information and options than ever,” said Rita Khan, senior vice president of digital experience at UnitedHealthcare. “Everyone benefits when an organization uses these tools to help empower consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions and decisions about their health.”

UnitedHealthcare is creating an ecosystem of digital services and solutions built around the consumer. This means creating tools – from market-leading health and wellness apps to secure websites for health and financial transactions – with the goal of simplifying and personalizing the health care experience.

Here are three ways that new and emerging digital technologies can help your clients meet growing expectations, boost engagement and help employees get the most from their health plan.

Give your clients’ employees what they want: on-demand access

At its core, the new, digitally empowered era of consumerism is all about giving consumers on-demand access to information.

“Consumers expect to have access to their information in the channel that works best for them, any time, any place,” said Tammy Quant, vice president of digital product management at UnitedHealthcare.

UnitedHealthcare offers a breadth of digital health care tools (see inset) giving employees on-demand health information and incentives. For example, the Health4Me app is designed to provide access to benefits information in an easier-to-understand format. Today, millions of employees are able to generate and share digital ID cards, compare costs and see provider reviews, view claims and account balances and fill prescriptions, all from their mobile devices.

Keep it simple and demonstrate immediate value

Keeping it simple is another challenge your clients may face when it comes to engaging employees in digital health technologies. It can be difficult to drive the same levels of engagement found in other consumer sectors where there might be more interactions and, as a result, more familiarity with the supporting technologies.

“There’s a challenge that exists in health care, people find it hard to engage with the health care system or its benefits because it seems too complicated,” said Quant, a former senior digital product manager at Best Buy. She pointed out that delivering this experience is even more important in a low-engagement industry like health insurance. “We aim to make the experience intuitive so that when the consumer interacts within our digital experiences, they see an immediate value.”

For example, fitness trackers are a highly adopted health and wellness tool used by a quarter of employees[4] for their immediate feedback and simplicity. UnitedHealthcare’s Motion program builds on employees’ affinity for activity trackers and allows them to potentially earn up to $4 a day, or more than $1,000 per year by meeting daily walking goals. Since the program’s inception, participants have collectively walked more than 130 billion steps and earned more than $19 million in rewards.

Remove participation barriers by offering personalization

The more personal the entire health care experience is for employees, the better. Understanding that no two employees are alike in the way they prefer to access health care information, UnitedHealthcare offers the ability to tailor the experience through offerings like the Health4Me app, Virtual Visits and 24-Hour Nurse. These online options complement a host of other resources including person-to-person support to boost employee engagement and allow for a more rewarding overall experience.   

For example, UnitedHealthcare offers highly personalized digital programs like the Real Appeal® weight loss program. The program assigns a transformation coach to customize an action plan with strategies unique to each individual, taking into account the person’s goals, lifestyle, schedule and more. The support resources are available any time, from any place, in a variety of formats. The personalized approach of Real Appeal has resulted in employee engagement five times higher than traditional disease geared programs[5].

“The goal is to add more personalized experiences in the most accessible fashion,” said Craig Hankins, vice president of digital products at UnitedHealthcare. And just as in the retail environment, the more people interact with these digital resources, the more intuitive and personalized the applications become.

“As users continue to engage with our digital ecosystem, the platforms continue to learn about our members, which in turn will enable us to continue to develop high-caliber experiences toward them,” said Hankins.

What’s next? In the future, data collected from UnitedHealthcare digital experience platforms will direct and control automated learning systems to help consumers find exactly what they’re looking for whenever and wherever they are in need. Members won’t search to find the exact information or experiences they need—it will come directly to them.

For more information about UnitedHealthcare’s digital offerings and how you can use them to meet the needs of your clients and their employees, please contact your national sales representative. 

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