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By Athena Mandros

The 2019 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute wrapped on Wednesday and I thought there was one overarching theme – engaging consumers. Alison Nelson, the Senior Vice President for Optum Technology at Optum, in her opening keynote, Leveraging Technology To Expand Access, Enhance Consumer Experience & Improve Outcomes In A Behavioral Health Care Marketplace, spoke about using technology to improve consumer experience and engagement. Optum has two principles for this transformation – easy access and self-service. The next day, Jonathan D. Linkous, MPA, FATA, Chief Executive Officer at The Partnership For Artificial Intelligence, Telemedicine & Robotics In Healthcare (PATH), gave a great overview of how technology is poised to reshape health service delivery in his keynote address, AI, Telemedicine Robotics & Id. My takeaway from his remarks – the competition among emerging technologies is competition around consumer experience and consumer engagement.

This focus doesn’t come as a surprised based on our research here at OPEN MINDS. My colleague Monica E. Oss, Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS released results of our new tech survey, The Tech-Enabled Provider Organization: The 2019 OPEN MINDS Health & Human Services Technology Survey, at the opening of the institute. She noted that specialty provider organizations are spending less on technology than others in the industry and their adoption of technology lags primary care (see How Do You Compare On Tech Spending & Adoption?).

In that survey, we found that the largest increases in tech adoption among specialty provider organizations was in consumer disease management/medication management, telehealth/remote therapy, and referral tracking. I think it’s interesting that these technologies all have a consumer engagement component. Referral and tracking databases help provider organizations reach new and potential clients and engage them in care. They can also assist in referring them to appropriate services. Telehealth can increase rapid access to care, while medication management can offer reminders to consumers about when to take their medications and ensure a seamless pharmacy experience.

While consumer engagement technologies didn’t make the ‘top three’ in terms of a year-to-year increase in adoption by specialty provider organizations, the use of those tools did increase 7 percentage points from last year. In particular, there was an increase in the use of these tools among child and family services, and I/DD and LTSS provider organizations. Specifically, adoption increased 10 percentage points among I/DD and LTSS provider organizations and 17 percentage points among child and family services provider organizations.

As we mentioned earlier, the interest in consumer engagement tools is not limited to provider organizations. Our recent survey of health plans found an increase in web-based and app-based consumer engagement tool adoption as well. (For more, see Health Plans Invest In Consumer Engagement and 2019 Trends In Behavioral Health: A Population Health Manager’s Reference Guide On The U.S. Behavioral Health Financing & Delivery System, 2nd Edition.)

With an increase in the use of consumer engagement tools both by health plans and provider organizations, executive teams should determine whether improving consumer engagement will give them competitive advantage. Consumer engagement tools include apps, text messaging, games, etc. For many provider organizations, the hardest part of adoption is selecting the right tool (see Planning Your Treatment Tech Investment and 2900+ Tech Solutions & 50,000+ Apps—How To Select The Treatment Technology That Fits With Your Strategy) and as Ms. Oss said during “Navigating The Tech Dichotomy: How To ‘Do It Now’ & Get Competitive Advantage Today”, “think rapid deployment, constant testing, and be willing to fail fast”.

For more, check out our latest coverage of the tools for consumer engagement for the complex consumer market:

  1. WellCare & AbleTo Partner To Bring Virtual Behavioral Health Care To Medicare Advantage Members In New York
  2. Experian Acquires MyHealthDirect, Strengthening Leadership Position In Consumer Access & Engagement
  3. WHO Launches Digital App To Improve Care For Older People
  4. Virtual Behavioral Health Startup Ginger Scores $35 Million In New Funding
  5. LifePod Partners With Wingate Healthcare To Provide Proactive-Voice Caregiving Service To Residents In Assisted Living Locations In Northeast
  6. Anthem Partners With Startup K Health On Symptom Checker & Telehealth App
  7. Humana Collaborates With Aspen RxHealth To Offer New App To Connect Patients & Pharmacists
  8. MYnd Analytics Partners With Care Compass Network To Offer Telebehavioral Health Services
  9. Wearable Behavioral Intervention Improves Social Behavior In Children With Autism
  10. FDA Approves Marketing Of Monarch eTNS System, First Medical Device For ADHD

And for even more on technology adoption, join us in Clearwater Florida on February 14 at The 2019 OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute for the session, “The Future Of Residential Treatment: How Technology & Innovative Program Models Are Redefining Service Delivery Models” featuring Dyann Roth, President & Chief Executive Officer, Inglis.

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