“The Birth of the Healthcare ‘Consumer’”
Last month, RBC Capital Markets released a research paper titled “The Birth of the Healthcare ‘Consumer’ and the Evolution of PopHealth.” In it, the monumental changes underway in the healthcare industry are likened to the changes experienced by the music industry over the last 10+ years. “Much in the way the digitization of content upended the music industry in the last decade, the ACA and new information tools focused on the healthcare consumer are disrupting the healthcare market,” the authors write.
I’d never really thought about it in this way before, but, yes, the parallels between the music industry’s technology-driven revolution – which forced a shift from a label-centric business model to a consumer-centric business model (one in which consumers enjoy tremendous freedom in choosing how, when and what they consume) – and the evolving healthcare industry are clear.
With the implementation of the ACA – and resulting growth in high-deductible health plans, as well as public and private exchanges – the consumer becomes the primary economic decision-maker in healthcare. What does this mean for plan sponsors? Many things, among them:
- A need for support in transitioning consumers to new health plan types, exchange-based or otherwise. High-deductible and defined-contribution health plans are experiencing record growth nationwide. To ensure consumers understand the dimensions on which they are choosing and how to maximize the value of their healthcare dollar, educate, educate, educate. (RBC’s research, in fact, calls education a critical component of the equation.)
- A need for more and better consumer-friendly tools to enable intelligent healthcare purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, the “if you build it, they will come” approach is unlikely to work. To successfully engage today’s healthcare consumer – and drive long-term behavior change – efforts must be proactive, personalized and easy to understand.
- An understanding that population health will play an increasingly important role in the future of healthcare. To maximize the value of investments made in this area, either in the form of additional wellness offerings or incentives to promote them, plan sponsors must engage consumers in a sustainable way.
- Whether you’re a health plan competing on an exchange or an employer moving lives to one, today’s healthcare consumer needs a fundamentally different set of tools and resources if we want their experience to be a positive one.
Yes, the consumer will soon be the core of the healthcare market and plan sponsors must adjust accordingly. As was the case with the music industry, it’s an evolve or die proposition. To that, Change Healthcare says “Evolve!”
Evolving to Serve You Better
At Change Healthcare, we’re evolving at a rapid pace – with an intense focus on adding value for our health plan and self-insured employer clients nationwide. One of the ways we believe we can do this best is by becoming a leading source of useful and relevant information on healthcare costs and consumer engagement strategies.
With this in mind, I’m excited to share that, today, Change Healthcare released its latest Healthcare Transparency Index (HCTI). Developed to provide insight into the challenges and opportunities resulting from healthcare price variance, these quarterly reports – first introduced in November 2010 – focus on national price differences among select prescription, medical, dental and vision services. This particular HCTI includes analysis of data from Q3 2012 to Q3 2013. It also includes a closer look at the top five most common preventive services completely covered by plan sponsors under the Affordable Care Act. One of the ways our HCTI may be helpful to plan sponsors is by highlighting services to target interventions to improve the overall value of healthcare benefits. To learn more, here’s the full report.
Earlier this week, Change Healthcare also launched a new web site. Created with the goal of helping visitors better understand the value of consumer engagement in healthcare (and the solutions we offer to support it), it features videos, whitepapers, case studies and lots of other information we hope you’ll find useful. I invite you to check it out!
Speaking of case studies, we have a new case study to share with you, too. In it, we examine how Change Healthcare recently helped one of our self-insured employer clients improve the utilization of its on-site clinics and pharmacies. We used a proprietary, claims-driven analysis and validation process – developed in partnership with a health economist from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins – to verify that Cerner’s associates and their dependents not only used our tools, but also changed their behaviors and made new purchasing decisions (saving purchasers on average $500 per year!). Thanks to our Targeted Engagement Alerts, today, the company is making the most of its investments, while improving population health and employee satisfaction.
I’m thrilled to be part of Change Healthcare’s evolution and growth, and I’m confident that, together, we will transform healthcare.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
As 2013 comes to a close, I am reminded of the many things Change Healthcare accomplished this year…how we continued to develop our company and our product offerings; how we positively impacted our clients’ healthcare cost trends; and, most importantly, how we continued to improve the lives of individuals across the country with consumer engagement and cost transparency solutions that make shopping for healthcare simple. Here are a few of the highlights:
In February, we launched Healthcare UniversityTM, an interactive series of videos, quizzes and challenges that leverages game mechanics to teach consumers the basics of healthcare and how to make value-based healthcare decisions. The first of its kind in the consumer engagement space, Healthcare University is already making a difference for individuals nationwide.
In April, Change Healthcare introduced Spanish-language versions of Healthcare University, Ways to SaveTM Alerts, Targeted Engagement Alerts and Cost Lookup – enabling our clients to expand their reach and experience increased ROI.
In August, we closed on another round of financing. We will use the new funds to respond to the growing call for cost transparency and consumer engagement in healthcare by expanding our sales and marketing efforts and accelerating product development. A special thanks to HLM Venture Partners, Noro-Moseley Partners, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Sandbox Industries, Mitsui & Co. Global Investment, Inc., Gary and Mary West Health Investment Fund, LLC, and Solidus Co. for their support in the endeavor.
Change Healthcare was also named to Modern Healthcare’s prestigious “100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare” list in August. (In November, we learned that we were ranked No. 38 overall and No. 13 in the Small Companies category!)
In early December, we announced that Change Healthcare will be a part of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded research study on the value of cost transparency in healthcare. We will partner with NORC at the University of Chicago and client Cerner Corporation on the two-year effort.
And throughout 2013, we launched a host of new health plan and employer clients – enabling millions of their plan members and employees to make value-based decisions that are good for their health and good for their wallets. We also had the opportunity to speak on the importance of consumer engagement in healthcare at a number of significant industry events, including IHC FORUM East and West, Business Health Agenda 2013, NEBGH’s Annual Conference, NBGH’s Annual Conference, several AHIP events and, most recently, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s National Summit on Healthcare Price, Cost and Quality Transparency.
Yes, it’s been a wonderful year. And we look forward to continuing our efforts to change healthcare in 2014.
Consumer Engagement in Healthcare Requires A Year-Round Effort
We live in the age of “healthcare consumerism.” An age where individuals are expected to shoulder more of the burden of their healthcare costs. An age where they’re told to comparison shop for prescription drugs and medical services like they would for a TV or computer. An age where they’re supposed to make “value-based” healthcare decisions – decisions that take into consideration quality AND cost.
Sadly, study after study shows that most Americans aren’t equipped with the tools or know-how to meet these expectations. In fact, only 14% of consumers understand common health benefits concepts, including deductible, copay, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum. And only 26% of workers always understand everything that’s covered by their health insurance policy – yet 90% elect the same benefit coverage year after year.
So, how can plan sponsors help their employees or members connect the dots (and encourage cost savings all-around)? With an engagement strategy that educates, engages and empowers not just during Open Enrollment, but throughout the year.
Such a strategy:
- Delivers personalized solutions that are relevant to the individual;
- Creates awareness of resources available to help;
- Educates on health benefits basics and how to be a better healthcare consumer;
- Reaches out proactively, again and again, with savings opportunities and health and wellness reminders; and, most importantly,
- Encourages sustained engagement to drive long-term behavior change, transforming passive healthcare users into proactive healthcare consumers.
The best part? Such a strategy also drives real ROI by helping your business control its healthcare cost growth trend, improve population health and increase employee/member satisfaction.
Want to learn more? I invite you to engage with us today at www.changehealthcare.com.