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Today’s consumer needs a digital health plan

Becoming a digital health plan

4 min read


Woman accessing health plan on phone


This post is sponsored by NTT DATA.

Today’s consumer shops on Amazon, reads Facebook updates from their favorite businesses and pays bills from their smartphone. The consumer landscape has been revolutionized, and health care is no exception.

At the same time, patients are getting more involved in their health care, driven by reforms, higher out-of-pocket costs and the move toward value-based care. As consumers take a more hands-on approach, they want the same experience in the health care market that they have in retail. Digital tools are critical, and consumers expect them to be available in all health care transactions. To provide the kind of experience members are looking for, payers need to position themselves as a digital health plan.

Becoming a digital health plan

A digital health plan provides member education, a multi-channel user experience and familiar digital tools. Key features of a digital health plan include:

  • an analytics platform with insights on plan use and performance, cost drivers, wellness program ROI and future costs
  • use of common internet shopping tools, such as geo-location, to automatically provide plan coverage comparisons
  • an optimized end-to-end user experience, developed by identifying customer activities, pain points and needs
  • a simplified payment platform with a customer-friendly billing experience
  • member engagement with personalized content across multiple channels

Data and analytics

Digital transformation will rely heavily on advanced analytics and big data. For example, socioeconomic and behavioral data can provide a more comprehensive picture of each member, helping the plan understand why some members aren’t meeting health goals. This allows health plans to personalize the next interaction with that member and design products and services that better address the needs of their consumers.

Data and analytics also help optimize the user experience. They can help plans provide consistency across touchpoints while identifying friction points in member interactions. NTT DATA Services’ recent Customer Friction FactorSM assessment found 71% of all friction was associated with transaction processes and engagement. Common shortfalls include forced interactions across multiple sites, screen refreshes of up to 32 seconds, failing to provide a consistent experience across transactions and creating a disjointed journey. Leveraging the right data insights can help health plans identify and fix these problems.

Finally, data and analytics are a key factor in communications, as health plans must understand which channels their consumers prefer and what types of communications will resonate with them. NTT DATA recommends customizable engagement platforms along the entire health care journey, from enrollment to self-service. These should track actions users take on the website or their mobile device and combine this information with clinical, non-clinical and member-generated data to determine next steps for engagement. 

Multi-channel communications

When it’s time to put these insights into action and reach out to members, engagement across multiple social media and online channels is imperative. While sharing data across silos has historically been a challenge in healthcare, plans must now connect members, providers and extended care teams and become an essential resource for their members’ health and wellness.

Posting educational, visually engaging videos on Facebook and Twitter goes a long way in helping consumers understand a complex system. Health plans should have a social media manager monitor these forums and assist consumers within secure communication channels. They also should have standard answers available for general questions.

To encourage engagement from their employees, health plans should have formalized training and a social media policy, supported from the top down.  This will help employees participate appropriately and provide guidelines to structure conversations. Good social media use can drive organic, positive discussions where exciting visuals and appropriate responses inform current members and attract new ones.

Looking ahead

Health plans are already taking steps to connect with more-engaged, tech savvy consumers but gaps and opportunities remain. Satisfying new consumer demands is only possible with data to help guide decisions and provide a comprehensive view of each member. But data can be unstructured and doesn’t always come in standard formats. Working with a partner to leverage these insights can help plans personalize both care and outreach, resulting in happier, healthier members who view their plan as a true resource in their health journey.

NTT DATA offers expertise and technology solutions to help health plans succeed in an environment where payment models, technology and regulations change rapidly. It helps plans integrate data sources and harmonize the data, with the approach of querying multiple data sources only once. Learn more at