During our sojourn to the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show last week, we knew there would be a fairly large mobile healthcare presence at the show. For the most part, this large contingent was represented by companies focused on pure consumer play mobile applications - such as using an iPad to take blood pressure readings.
The largest healthcare exhibitor by far however was UnitedHealth Group, which not only had a sophisticated 3,500 square foot show floor exhibit space that rivaled many of the large electronics vendors, but also had a significant voice in the CES Digital Health Summit that was held at the show. UnitedHealth Group had a very focused mission that went well beyond pure play consumer applications. The company was far more directly interested in the business to consumer (B2C) relationship, where the target audience isn't simply a consumer, but rather actual policyholders of UnitedHealth Group.
While at CES we spoke with Nick Martin, Vice President of Innovation, Research and Development at UnitedHealth Group. Martin made it very clear
that UnitedHealth is "extremely interested in establishing a very close relationship with our policyholders. We are using mobility to drive engagement with them, and to create a better means to access care. We are looking to accomplish this primarily through providing fun and educational experiences and interactions. In many cases those interactions also lead to ways our clients can save on a variety of medical costs."
While at CES UnitedHealth Group showcased how the company and its UnitedHealthcare health benefits and Optum health services businesses are simplifying the consumer health care experience by making helpful, practical information easier to access through personal technology devices such as smartphones and video game consoles.
UnitedHealth Group's current collection of mobile applications include the following:
- Health4Me – UnitedHealth Group’s newest mobile application makes it easy and convenient for plan participants to make health care decisions directly from their mobile devices. Health4Me enables users, via their GPS location, to find care providers, including hospitals, urgent-care centers and clinics that participate in their health plan’s provider network. Health4Me also allows users to review their health benefits, health savings account and recent claims information.
- OptumizeMe – One of the first "mobile fitness challenge" mobile apps ever brought to market, OptumizeMe lets people use their smartphones tocreate health challenges – with friends, co-workers and others in their social network – to help achieve health and fitness goals
- OptumRx Prescription app – This mobile app enables our clients to manage their medications. The app provides alerts and the ability to track prescription and nonprescription medications and consumption, which allows our users to be far less likely to skip a dose or confuse their medications
Health Technology Products and Services
Addtional tools that UntiedHealth provides include the following:
- NowClinic – Optum’s NowClinic online care (www.myNowclinic.com) connects patients to doctors online, anytime and anywhere via the Internet. Patients can talk to a doctor via webcam, secure messenger or phone at a cost of just $45 for each 10-minute “visit.” Doctors can diagnose and prescribe, if clinically appropriate
- Health Care Cost Estimator – UnitedHealthcare’s Health Care Cost Estimator provides consumers with a comprehensive view of common procedures and treatment options, and personalized cost estimates – based on their health benefits plan – that include how cost and quality differs among physicians and facilities
- Health Savings Checkup – This tool gives users an estimate of their own future health care costs based on $130 billion in claims from more than 16 million plan participants. The user answers basic questions about retirement goals, health and finances, and is able to get a better picture of potential health costs in retirement as well as possible gaps in savings
These online tools will likely see mobile versions emerge in the near future. "In addition to a fun and engaging experience, we believe that our use of mobile and Web technology also enables a better short term and long term health outcome for our clients," says Martin. "The response from visitors at our booth certainly suggests we are on the right track, and we look forward to introducing both new and enhanced products over the next 12 months."
Mobility and Healthcare
Ultimately, UnitedHealth Group anticipates that its technology-based efforts, especially those efforts that have resulted in mobile anytime anywhere access, will not only lead to reduced costs for the company's policyholders, but will, even more importantly, lead to significant cost savings for UnitedHealth Group itself. It is here that the company sees mobility as a powerful strategic driver from a pure business perspective.
Martin concludes, "Everything begins with creating a strong awareness within our policyholder base, but then the next critical step is to ensure real engagement with our users. Mobility makes it easy to accomplish both. As our users become more deeply aware and more engaged, they will begin to see the benefits of taking a much more proactive, mobile-driven approach to their medical care. Doing so creates a win-win, both for our policyholders and for UnitedHealth Group as a business."