Healthcare is leading the way for big innovation in 2021, grounded in artificial intelligence and driven by acceleration and adoption across all sectors of the industry – clinical, pharma, biotech, research, health plan benefits. Technology is changing the way healthcare is received and delivered. Coupled with a rise in healthcare consumerism, patients are demanding to take more control of access, improved outcomes and reduced costs.
Harnessing Technology’s Benefits While Putting The Patient First
Automation in healthcare has led to a state of numeration – everything and everyone is a number. Healthcare benefits plans, notoriously complicated, are only more so now, with the digital front door – not a person – serving as the main access point to healthcare plans. Studies show that almost one third of employees do not even understand their health plan benefits. And, most people do not even look at their plans until they need to, such as when they are ill and seeking immediate treatment or consultation.
Mobile apps, websites, email alerts and appointment reminders are aimed at helping to simplify healthcare. But when you or a family member needs medical attention, you expect the immediacy of technology along with the compassion and attention of a person. Technology cannot fulfill what human interaction can. At the end of the day, we need to remember that healthcare is still personal and local. People want to be able to connect with their physicians, speak to a person about their benefits and healthcare options and physically see a doctor.
Investing in a health plan services technology that also includes available, personal and integrated customer service will create a better experience for the employee with improved healthcare outcomes, which translates into a healthier and more satisfied workforce for the employer.
How Healthcare Technology Improves Healthcare Behaviors
A myriad of health and wellness applications and technologies have flooded our cell phones, tablets and Smart TV’s. From calorie counting to tracking ovulation to remote monitoring devices that record vital signs, such as the Apple Watch and FitBit, there seems to be a technology for everything if you want it. Technology is moving even beyond that, forecasting high risk health scenarios such as heart conditions; drawing attention to predisposed conditions like diabetes or cancer. Predictive analytics have been around for a long time. Until now, we have not seen analysis conducted to the level of accuracy and reliability that we are witnessing now thanks to deep learning, the most advanced form of AI. By incorporating deep learning into various algorithms and collecting data from healthcare claims, member engagement, internal operations and customer experiences, we have the ability to generate AI-enabled predictions to guide consumers towards the best preventive care management providers at the earliest possible time as well as point to lower-cost but high-quality healthcare providers. With this key information, a person can take better control of their health, avoid or mitigate certain medical conditions and establish a healthier lifestyle. These highly personalized insights when conveyed to a patient through a trusted medical provider, result in changed behaviors over time. Technology is holding us accountable.
Cutting Costs To Improve Personal Health
The cost of healthcare is rising, cutting into wages and increasing costs to employees with high deductible and cost sharing plans. As a result, many avoid important healthcare screenings, critical preventative checkups and prescription medicine treatment. The pandemic has added to this, creating a dangerous decline in preventative care that could result in increased diagnoses of conditions that might have been prevented if detected early, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Technology, like deep learning, is providing the tools and insights to not only improve healthcare outcomes, but to lower medical costs, improve efficiency of medical resources and revolutionize the way care is delivered, received and managed. Early diagnosis can not only improve long-term healthcare but can also prevent expensive treatments and therapies, resulting in more affordable healthcare options for both employer and employee. At the same time, a preservation of critical medical assets could be achieved.
In leveraging today’s technology, companies need to be cognizant about not compromising the personal aspect of healthcare and the need for human interaction. Healthcare is personal and local – technology won’t change that. The challenge in managing healthcare benefits plans is to provide a personal experience that delivers a high standard of care with the autonomy to choose a personal healthcare path at a cost that everyone can afford.