As more consumers become accustomed to using technology to manage their health, health plans – including Medicare Advantage organizations – will need to accelerate their adoption of digital solutions to keep up with member expectations, according to a new report from Deloitte.
Deloitte’s report, which interviewed leaders from MA plans and digital innovators working with MA plans between April and May of this year, revealed that having certain digital health options available for members will be a minimum requirement going forward.
Virtual care has already become more widely used during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 26% of MA members said they used telehealth in the first part of 2020 compared with 13% in all of 2019, according to the report.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT
When MA organizations are devising their digital strategies, Deloitte recommends making offerings that are consumer-centric, digital and interoperable.
Providing members with benefits that support their health and wellness should be a top priority, Deloitte said. Common supplemental benefits that MA plans are offering include transportation services, doorstep drug deliveries, food and nutrition support, and virtual outreach and engagement programs.
MA plans should consider integrating digital capabilities into their benefits because members are becoming increasingly willing to use technology for their care, according to Deloitte.
While younger baby boomers tend to be more willing than their older counterparts to adopt technology, older members aren’t far behind. Thirty percent of older boomers and 29% of Medicare enrollees said they would be willing to wear a sensor to alert them if they are at risk for a heart attack or stroke, compared with 35% of younger boomers. Additionally, 30% of older boomers and 21% of Medicare members said they would use voice assistants for medication reminders, compared with 35% of younger boomers.
Finally, MA organizations that are implementing digital solutions should make a fully integrated digital health ecosystem, the report says. The digital platform should be flexible enough to allow for smooth on- and off-boarding of ecosystem partners and data sharing.
“Interviewees agreed that the industry may see long-lasting change past the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote in the report. “They expect consumers’ and physicians’ attitudes toward and preference for virtual health will continue to mature and give health plans an impetus to adopt and improvise on digital solutions to deliver benefits.”
When measuring the effectiveness of their digital initiatives, the MA plans interviewed by Deloitte consider how much their physicians engage with the technology, if member enrollment or retention changes, how the solution impacts members’ quality of health and if member costs are reduced.
THE LARGER TREND
Overall, telehealth usage among seniors increased 300% during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a healthinsurance.com survey. For Medicare-eligible seniors, 60% said they’ve embraced technology more during the pandemic, primarily for their healthcare, to stay informed, to communicate with friends and family, and for entertainment.
Especially during the pandemic, technology offers a solution to combat social isolation and loneliness among older adults.
SCAN Health Plan recently deployed Rally Health’s interactive digital platform for its senior members. It gives them an opportunity to join online social groups, set and work toward wellness goals, and get information about relevant health topics.