Consumers Will Be Able to Pay for Doctor Visits on Their Phones, Via Anthem
Health insurers are aiming to release digital tools that integrate better into their health care offer. Their goal is to reduce costs and improve convenience for consumers. Anthem Inc. introduced a new app recently.
In fact, consumers use the app to schedule an appointment and pay for doctor visits on their smartphones, as well as hear about diagnoses and communicate with doctors.
UnitedHealth Group Inc., CVS Health Corp. and Cigna Corp. are seeking offerings that improve the delivery and payments for health care. Besides, they expect that these tools also persuade the way people choose care while lowering costs for the insurer.
“We want to be able to expand access to care and help with navigation, and we want to do it for all consumers, not just Anthem members,” said Rajeev Ronanki, Anthem’s chief digital officer. “Clearly, this is an opportunity to innovate on the business model.”
Insurers and employers have offered telemedicine for years, with mixed results. In 2017, Health Affairs discovered such services may increase expenses, although the remote appointments are cheaper than F2F visits. A 2018 analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that the virtual visit services had little impact with employees.
Insurers strive for services that can include more than personalized doctor recommendations. Besides, they offer online appointment-booking, pricing information, plus a range of mental-health offerings.
“How do we use technology to guide people to the care that’s best for them?” said Firdaus Bhathena, CVS’s chief digital officer. “We’re working on the actual connected end-to-end experience.”
Humana Inc. implemented a new approach that connects patients to primary-care doctors whom they can see for regular video visits, using Doctor On Demand Inc. In fact, patients use blood-pressure cuffs at home. In addition, the doctors receive patient medical records from Humana, and they can track their care and arrange follow-up visits.
Finally, the digital-first plan costs much less in premiums to consumers than other market products, Humana said.