This week Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based health insurance provider Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield launched an iPhone app, Health@Hand, co-developed with ADAM and based on that company's Medzio application. How is Health@Hand different from Medzio? Health@Hand was customized with specific information for Highmark members that enables them to find healthcare services and physicians available within their plan. Users can search for providers within a certain radius of their current location using their phone's GPS and subsequently get a map and directions to the provider via the app. Like Medzio, the app also includes a symptom navigator and other health information resources.
"We wanted to get outside of the insurance category of [mobile applications] and provide something relevant and useful to our members," Steffan Johnson, Senior Consumerism Lead, Highmark BCBS told MobiHealthNews in an interview. "A lot of our competitors are working on or have offered personal health records (PHR) wallets for mobile phones. Their idea is: If I forget my card I can show my claims data from the phone. We wanted something that was a little more forward-thinking. Our goal is to educate members about their health not just help them carry their insurance card around with them electronically."
Johnson noted that the past five years have seen significant growth in smartphone usage and mobile apps downloads.
"We felt that now was the time for Highmark to really go to market with an application -- under the guidance of consumerism," Johnson said. "We have spent a lot of time segmenting and understanding our user base and within those member surveys it became clear that they were very interested in new opportunities for connecting to Highmark. We saw that more of our members interested in becoming more participatory in their own healthcare needs and also that more of our members were users of mobile devices and mobile apps. That was our 'aha moment' when it dawned on us that we should meet them at that intersection."
Johnson confirmed that Highmark will provide Health@Hand for other platforms in the future and while he mentioned Android as one potential platform, he said Highmark still needed to evaluate other mobile device operating systems before planning their next move.
Highmark believes the app may serve as an acquisition tool for new members even though the app is only available to current Highmark BCBS members and requires a password to unlock. Johnson admitted the app is likely even more of a retention tool for existing members.
"This app is just the first of many," Johnson said. "We envision Health@Hand as a series of apps and tools. They will all focus on healthcare education and support tools that enable our members to make better healthcare decisions. We are still exploring those areas to develop new apps."
For more: Read the Health@Hand press release