Insurance companies now investing in Mobile Health Apps

Now that the largest health plans have mobile sites and common capabilities for members to look up a physician's address, display a member card or a billing address, they are moving on to building apps that are more directly involved with patients' health.

They want to provide the mobile applications that members turn to for help with staying healthy, diagnosing illnesses and communicating with their doctors.

All of the large health plans say they aren't interested in replacing physicians with an app but rather helping members figure out when a doctor's care is necessary, then connecting the patient and doctor using mobile technology.

Joseph Smith, MD, PhD, is chief medical officer for West Wireless Health, a San Diego-based medical research organization funded solely by the Gary and Mary West Foundation.

"The revolution in mobile health is not about replacing physicians, but rather in extending their reach and better targeting their time and talent" Dr. Smith said in an email.
He said remote biometric monitoring devices will give physicians better information faster. That technology "amplifies the clinician's ability to treat the most sick the quickest, even at great distance," he said.
Anthony Nguyen, MD, senior vice president of care management at WellPoint, said the goal is to use mobile technology to make the best possible use of increasingly scarce physician time, given the shortage of primary care physicians that is only expected to worsen.
Health insurers are challenged with standing out in a crowded field -- and with proving to consumers that a health insurer can be trusted and helpful.


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