Views

3 tips to boost your healthcare literacy with technology

Historically, the relationship between consumers and their health plan providers has been a distant and somewhat bumpy one. Some health plan providers get a bad rap for poor communications, leaving consumers on their own to navigate a health care system wrought with confusing language, red tape, and unpredictable costs.

The events of a global pandemic have compounded the complexity of dealing with the healthcare system. A recent J.D. Power Survey found that more than 60% of privately insured U.S. health plan members did not receive any guidance about COVID-19 from their providers. The lack of healthcare literacy — knowing what questions to ask and where to get care — has also created a bigger gap between everyday people and their providers. But the good news is technology can help us get more out of our benefits, making our relationship with health plan providers more connected.

Read more: 3 HR engagement strategies for open enrollment

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need for more TLC and attention when it comes to benefits. But technology can help us get the most out of our benefits — strengthening our consumer relationship with health plan providers. By engaging with technology, we can improve our healthcare literacy, identify cost-saving opportunities and be more prepared for the unexpected.

Say goodbye to one-size-fits-all health plans
The end of one-size-fits-all health and benefits packages has changed the way health plan providers approach their offerings. Similar to algorithms used to personalize Spotify playlists, big data and technology can create health and benefits plans thatcater to an individual’s needs at each moment in their life. Data and technology can streamline care, lower health plan costs, and make sure consumers are enrolled in the right benefits, at the right time. When benefits and health plans are personalized, more people use them.

If consumers are going to make an informed decision during open enrollment, they’ll need information about the number of visits they paid to the doctor and the costs of their claims to determine if they should change plans. Maybe they’re paying a lot more in premiums, or perhaps they didn’t meet their deductible. Being engaged with your benefits is key to getting the most out of them.

Tip: Avoid going on autopilot with your benefits. Benefits offerings are always changing, and health providers often offer programs that you can opt-in to free. Make sure you’re set up to receive notifications from your benefits administrators and health plan providers. Then take action. Use the preventative care offerings, likes annual wellness check-ups, and enroll in the programs that will serve you now and in the future.
Use AI to build compassion into health technology
The healthcare industry is made up of various players — health plan providers, healthcare facilities, pharmacies — who don’t always communicate well with each other or the person receiving care. However, technology is changing the game. Benefit providers and platforms are pivoting to AI-based architecture to help a consumer predict health plan use and make year-round benefits decisions based on their life.

During the pandemic, there has also been an increase in the use of AI to improve communication across the healthcare ecosystem. For example, patient care in the emergency room (ER) is traditionally delivered numerically — first come, first serve. However, AI can help doctors and caregivers at hospitals prioritize the needs of waiting patients. This can lead to a decrease in wait times in crowded hospitals — especially important during the pandemic. In the same vein, AI can help an individual decide if they truly need to visit the ER or if a telehealth option would be more effective and affordable.

Caregiver support platforms, like Cariloop, are using cloud-base technology to improve communication between providers, consumers and their families. This employer-sponsored benefit offers tailored caregiving plans and coaching for families looking for pediatric and senior care. Cariloop, and other caregiver support platforms, use technology to tap into a system of trusted providers and build caregiving scenarios with planning and calculator tools. Users can adjust for different scenarios, review whatresources are available, and receive personal coaching throughout the caregiving journey.

Tip: Viewing benefits as an item to check off a list once a year means you might be overpaying or leaving benefits on the table. Using claims integrations and decision support tools, like planning calculators, can help you and your family fully engage with your benefits and improve your healthcare literacy.
Deliver virtual holistic and preventative care options
The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting how technology can be used by organizations to better serve their communities and people in need. For example, technology is making it easier for companies and universities to provide mental telehealth support, and health plan providers like Blue Shield of California are using data-driven care models to improve healthcare for those most in need.

Benefits administrators and health plan providers are beginning to see the importance of supporting the whole person — through mental wellbeing initiatives or by offering online tutoring discounts, streaming virtual fitness programs, and food delivery services.

Tip: Look to the different options that providers use to deliver holistic and preventative care options. For example, year-long access to audio-guided meditation apps like Headspace or programs built around the use of wearable technology that rewards users who meet personalized activity goals. These initiatives go beyond regular patient care and give you tools to support your wellbeing — not just when you’re feeling under the weather.
MORE FROM EMPLOYEE BENEFIT ADVISER