Mobile health: Making the business case


Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the FierceHealthPayer eBook, Payers and mHealth: Best Practices for the Move to Mobile.

Mobile health brings new opportunities to connect with customers at any time and in any place. Public demand for it is soaring. The question is: By leveraging the mobile channel, can payers also improve quality and reduce costs?

The costs and investment return for mobile health strategies vary depending on resource constraints, the number and types of offerings and their responsiveness to customers' needs. Nevertheless, known demands, risks and benefits of mobile health can inform business cases.

The information that follows was gleaned from payers whose market shares and breath of resources differ widely.

The demand for mobile

The numbers tell it all--and make a compelling business case for investing in mobile. In one year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) saw growth of more than 440 percent in website traffic coming from tablets. There was also a 105 percent increase in smartphone hits.

Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island (NHPRI) reports that in 2011, 3 percent of its website traffic came from mobile devices. In 2012, that figure rose to 8 percent.

Offering an on-line app led to a 14 percent increase in total enrollment applications for California's children's Medicaid program between 2010 and 2011, according to a Mathematica Policy Research study.

Besides tracing sources of website traffic, mobile health demand in your market can be measured by learning customers' communication preferences through questions on enrollment applications, welcome calls or care management consent forms. Some organizations are convening focus groups to learn more about demand for mobile-friendly features.