3 myths that trip up payers' digital strategies


As health insurers continue to develop and move forward with their digital strategies in hopes of attracting and retaining customers, many of them are basing their initiatives on myths or misinformation, according to McKinsey & Co.

"Our research revealed surprising and actionable insights about what patients really want, which can in turn inform how healthcare organizations begin their digital patient-enablement journey," Stefan Biesdorf, principal with McKinsey, wrote in the paper.

Using an international survey of consumers, Biesdorf highlighted some myths that payers and other healthcare organizations should know about when it comes to implementing digital strategies. Here's a summary of some of those untruths.

1. People don't want to use digital services for healthcare

Many healthcare organizations don't think consumers are willing to use digital services because of the sensitive and private nature of healthcare. The reason consumers are slow to adopt digital health programs is because of poor quality or failure to meet their specific needs. The McKinsey survey found 75 percent of respondents want to use digital services--if they meet their needs and provide high quality. That's why insurers should, for instance, create mobile apps that lead to meaningful, customer-specific wellness incentives, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

2. Only young people want to use digital services

A common misunderstanding is that only young consumers are interested in using digital services. Believing this, insurers and other healthcare organizations don't usually create digital programs geared toward older individuals. However, McKinsey has found consumers over 50 years old want digital health services almost as much as younger adults. Older consumers are interested in different types of digital services, preferring websites and email, while younger adults want to communicate via social media. CoOportunity Health, which has limited advertising capacity as a CO-OP, took advantage of social media to reach consumers, for example.

3. Mobile health is the game changer

Many experts espouse the theory that robust digital and mobile strategies are keys to a successful future in the healthcare industry. But going digital isn't the single game changer for insurers going forward, according to McKinsey. In fact, a March survey found 65 percent of more than 2,000 consumers have never used their smartphone to manage or interact with their insurer. Although insurers are still wise to continue ramping up their digital and mobile offerings, they should be wary of solutions that aren't interesting to a large population. For example, many healthcare apps don't incorporate scientifically tested motivational tools that actually lead to behavior changes. Without such best practices, many consumers won't use the offerings.

To learn more:
- here's the McKinsey & Co paper

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