Health Insurance and Mobile Technology

>>>Health Insurance and Mobile Technology

Users of technology are shifting their focus from desktops and laptops to smart phones and tablets at an increasing rate. A recent report by BGR states that, “Tablet sales have more than doubled and smartphone sales have increased by almost 50% year-over-year.” However, health insurance companies and their IT providers have not kept pace with this trend. Members that want to participate in company sponsored health programs or track their personal health progress must still select activities and enter information in their account via a desktop version of a webpage.

Suppose for example that an individual decides to take part in a weight loss competition sponsored by their employer in order to receive a cash prize or a reduction in their insurance premium. To satisfy the requirements of the challenge, this individual needs to update their profile with the physical activities they completed and also their weight measurements at various points in time. The challenge is that the member would first need to memorize the specifics of their workout or record the information in some kind of physical journal or software application. They would then need to log in to a desktop version of a webpage and manually enter the information into their profile. But why does there have to be this extra step? Will this time consuming process deter employers from participating?

A more efficient way of accomplishing this task would be to enter the information straight into a mobile solution. Individuals following this process could enroll in and complete company sponsored activities directly from their mobile device. Also, data from their workouts could be automatically entered into their online wellness profiles via use of a linked wearable device or a fitness application on a phone or tablet. Not only would this streamline the process but it would also mitigate lack of response or decrease the delay in time from when an activity is completed to when it is recorded on the member’s profile.

This mobile process may sound costly or complicated to some people but in reality it is merely a melding of already existing technologies into a user friendly online health insurance experience. Applications are already capable of utilizing a mobile device’s accelerometer and/or a GPS antenna to automatically record users’ activity. Also, devices such as running watches,

bracelets, or smart clothing are routinely used by some individuals to capture and record workout data. Below are some of the capabilities that would help the system easily become functional and user friendly:

  • The user would need the ability to manually update their fitness, weight loss, and habit changing information if their mobile device or a fitness measuring device is not practical for their particular workout (think activities such as swimming and weight lifting, or if a user wanted to input that they quit smoking or lost weight).
  • The sign-on screen for the application needs to be a stripped down version of the desktop page with the home screen’s focal points such as activity trackers, challenges, and weight races.
  • Members must be able to enroll in weight races and challenges, and also have the capability to monitor and manually update activities when completed or when weight is lost.
  • This system should also allow users to track their progression, compare results to friends and other users, and share their progress via email, forums, or social media websites.

In sum, the time for health insurers to move forward into the mobile world is now. Health insurance companies and their IT providers must take the critical steps towards making it easier for subscribers to utilize healthcare products. The shifting of technology from desktops and laptops to smart phones and tablets will one day make this practice a requirement versus an opportunity. Given this trend companies should embrace and move with the change to improve customer satisfaction and create a loyal member-base.

Clark Webb is a Consultant II at SDLC Partners, a leading provider of business and technology  solutions. Please feel free to contact Clark at with any questions on this blog post or to further discuss Application Development.