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The Rise of the Digital-First Health Care Approach


Interactive technology plays an ever-increasing role in our everyday lives, so it only makes sense that this rapidly improving technology is making its way other areas of our lives, including health care.

Across all areas of daily life, we rely on digital assistants for a variety of tasks, from waking us up in the morning to reminding us of appointments during our busy days. This interactive technology plays an ever-increasing role in our everyday lives, so it only makes sense that this rapidly improving technology is making its way other areas of our lives, including health care.

Gone are the days when individuals had to wait extended periods of time to receive test results, go to a doctor’s office to get a prescription for a refill, or call their insurance companies to file a claim or review their benefits. Consumers want, and expect, all important information to be readily available at their fingertips through their smartphones or other smart devices. In order to keep consumers engaged in their health journey, the health care industry is evolving its approach to accommodate how individuals prefer to access critical health information, which is most often on-demand through smart devices.

“Alexa, Ask Anthem for My ID Card”

In response to this demand for a seamless digital experience for both consumers and health care companies, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has become one of the first health insurers to provide consumers with specific information about their health benefits through Anthem Skill for Alexa. The service is available to people with Anthem commercial health plans offered in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Anthem consumers can now ask Anthem Skill for Alexa to check the balance of their health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement account (HRA), get the status of their deductible, order an ID card, refill prescriptions, schedule call backs with member services, find a provider, get claims information, and more.

Empowering consumers with the ability to get help 24/7 for simple questions and requests allows them to be more engaged in their health care. In addition, providing consumers with easy access to relevant plan information, whenever they might need it, helps calm any uncertainties, and with a glossary of 200-plus health terms, such as “co-insurance” and “formulary,” consumers can easily find information and details on the scope of their health plan. Anthem Skill for Alexa also has the potential to educate consumers and raise awareness of steps they can take to improve their overall health and ultimately improve the healthcare experience for all consumers.

Anthem Skill for Alexa can be accessed through an Alexa-enabled device or via the Alexa app, which enhances consumers’ healthcare experience by taking a digital-first approach. Many consumers prefer a hands-free, voice-activated experience instead of calling and potentially sitting on hold to find out information about their plan.

Digital Adoption Is Consistently Growing

As one might expect, studies show that younger generations lead in the use and adoption of technology, but older generations are also joining the digital age at a consistently growing rate, with 68% of Baby Boomers owning a smartphone in 2019 compared with only 25% in 2011, as shown by a recent Pew poll.

With the majority of consumers heavily relying on their smart devices to instantly relay information, expectations have evolved, and people want secure and easy-to-use interfaces to access their health information across multiple devices including phones, tablets, computers and virtual assistants. As such, health care companies need to evolve and adapt to a digital-first health care experience that provides patients with data where, when, and how they want it.

Be Prepared to Continue Evolving

Like all things in the digital world, regular updates and enhancements are needed. This version of Anthem Skill for Alexa is only the beginning, but already it is providing a data-driven, simple, on-demand and personal healthcare experience that is helping customers in the way they want to be supported. As the expectations for technology increase, consumers will be looking for a variety of digital-first options to access information. More robust digital solutions with expanded functionality will help businesses in the long run and improve customer satisfaction over time.

Jeff Spahr is vice president, Specialty Business Development, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

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