Embracing Technology for a Better Future
healthcaretechoutlook

Embracing Technology for a Better Future

By Seth Diamond, COO, MetroPlus

Seth Diamond, COO, MetroPlus

Like most consumer-facing industries, technology has fundamentally changed the way health insurance companies interact with their customers. Until recently, in the healthcare industry technology was usually viewed as a behind-the-scenes support, used, for example, to process claims or to send out letters to members. Today technology is an essential part of meeting the ever increasing expectations of consumers for convenient, available and easy to use services.

"To be one-ahead in any industry, a leader must understand the fundamentals of their product and be keenly aware of changing market dynamics"

The impact of technology can be seen right from the beginning of an individual’s interaction with MetroPlus, during the enrollment process. Not long ago, an individual wanting to enroll in health insurance had to travel to a fixed office and go through a lengthy interview. Offices could be some distance from an individual and often had limited hours of operation. Today we go to all corners of New York City and enroll people in the location that is convenient for them. Using a laptop and portable scanner, we can do enrollments in city parks, at local coffee shops, on street corners, and at local businesses. This flexibility gives us the ability to enroll people where it best meets the customer’s needs. It also allows us to enroll people at specialized events or at more isolated locations, reaching people who might never have made their way to one of our offices. Technology allows us to improve the health of our city’s citizens by bringing insurance to them.

Technology also allows us to keep in better touch with our members and to provide them with the information they want on their schedule. Phone calls and letters -- the traditional communication methods -- can be expensive and are often lost in the busy lives people lead. Text messages cut through the clutter and allow us to communicate critical information with our members efficiently and inexpensively. We also can let our members know, through text messages, that we are there to help them and to provide an easy way to contact us if they have questions or need assistance. We have also significantly improved the member portal of our website so members can log in when they want to and check on the processing of recent claims, change a Primary Care Physician, get information on an aspect of their benefits, and more.

Additionally, technology enables us to offer a rewards program to our members. The MetroPlus Member Rewards Program, offered under contract with our vendor, Finity, rewards members for completing certain health activities, such as attending preventive exams or filling critical medications. This loyalty program does not require members to submit cumbersome forms or paperwork, but rather credits individuals with points automatically based on information MetroPlus receives from their doctor or pharmacy. Members can then go online through a specialized portal to claim prizes when it is convenient for them. Our Rewards Program encourages healthy behavior in an easy to use platform, made possible through new technology.

Security is of course a critical concern for all healthcare companies and needs to be an important part of any technological endeavor. At MetroPlus we constantly review the protection we have in place to ensure it is the most up to date and also review our internal processes to make sure we are taking every reasonable step possible to protect our members’ privacy. New security technologies help MetroPlus keep our members’ personal and protected information safe.

Consumers have never had more choices in healthcare. Technology has given them the ability to better understand those choices and to evaluate the services being offered by all health insurance companies. In today’s hyper-competitive market, technology, combined with the dedication of our employees, give us the ability to meet the needs of our customers, while allowing our members to be sure they made the right choice in putting their trust in MetroPlus.

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