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Medicare Advantage Members Are Using mHealth, But Their Plans Aren’t

A HealthMine survey finds that 77 percent of MA members are using mHealth tools to monitor their health at home - but few health plans are making use of that data.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- Medicare Advantage members are using mHealth tools to monitor chronic health conditions. However, the same can’t be said for their health plans.

That disparity was picked up in HealthMine’s Medicare Report, based on a 2017 survey of some 500 MA members, 70 percent of which are living with at least one chronic condition.

According to that report, a robust 77 percent say they’re using digital health tools, such as blood pressure monitors, blood sugar monitors, fitness devices, heart monitors, medication adherence trackers and an electronic health record. Yet only 9 percent of those surveyed say their health plan integrates data from those tools, and only 8 percent of those with at least one chronic condition are using those tools in connection with their health plan.

That difference in connected care integration may be result of limited communication between the member and the health plan, say HealthMine executives.

"Our experience working with Medicare Advantage plans has shown that health plans are making real strides to connect data to members with meaningful, timely, clinical help and reminders,” HealthMine CEO and President Bryce Williams said in a press release. “The challenge is always reaching members and knowing each member's communication preferences.”

“We have more than 10,000 baby boomers aging into Medicare daily, and as that generation becomes the majority of Medicare Advantage members we expect improved communication with scalable digital technology,” Williams added. “Medicare Advantage plans are quickly leveraging technology to zero in on each member's clinical needs and communication preferences."

They’re going to have to move faster. HealthMine identified that communication gap in its survey, in which almost half say their health plan’s portal “rarely” or “never” answers their questions and only 11 percent are getting information from their plan on how to lower healthcare costs (47 percent, meanwhile, want that information).

In addition, 57 percent of those surveyed say they don’t know if their health plan offers telemedicine, while another 31 percent say connected care services aren’t available to them.

“Our survey shows that most members believe health plan communications are impersonal and centered around bills rather than healthcare guidance,” the report points out. “Most members are either disconnected from, or rarely visit their health plans on social media and member portals. Additionally, many members feel they are missing valuable guidance from their plans around digital health data and price transparency.”

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