With 44 digital health mergers and acquisitions in 2017 and new health ventures in 2018 that include companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart, the age of health tech innovation is just getting started.

The Era of Telehealth

In the first half of 2018, a new provision in the congressional budget made telehealth services – including monitoring, diagnosis, and medication dose and type modifications – more accessible to many beneficiaries. This big step in health technology is a good thing for the 90 percent of Medicare seniors who prefer to age at home. It’s also a good thing for the two-thirds of that population living with multiple chronic conditions who run into problems with transportation, managing poly-pharmacy regimens, coordinating appointments, etc.

Technology-based Healthcare Creates Pitfalls for Health Plans

Unfortunately, telehealth advancement isn’t always a good thing for health plan providers. They are the ones who will be charged (financially and otherwise) when only 50 percent of those members take their medications as prescribed. This leads to unnecessary readmissions, repetitive long-term care episodes, and physical complications.

Predictive Analytics, Precise Targeting, and Progressive Tactics

While telehealth rapidly becomes a healthcare norm, health plans are struggling to meet healthcare where it’s at and maneuver around ever-changing healthcare policies. It takes the right technology, or the right partners with the right technology, to make sense of the mounds of member data that come along with healthcare tech. Platforms that bring predictive analytics together with population-based targeting capabilities can predict behaviors like medication adherence. Interventions can be successful. Unnecessary utilization can be reduced. Costs can be reduced. Quality of care can be increased.

A Word of Caution – Enabling, Not Replacing

Technology used in healthcare, such as it is in telehealth, can be successful if it takes this approach: technology in healthcare is to enable human services, not to replace them. Health plans partnering with telehealth companies need to keep this at the forefront of their tactics. They will need to relentlessly measure effectiveness, create strong systems for care coordination, and deliver truly scalable products – but health plans don’t have to do it alone.

CEO Josh Benner on Health Tech:

“A lot of companies are talking about how technology can replace expensive services traditionally used in caring for seniors. But I wholeheartedly believe that the way technology is best used is if it’s enabling human services.

Our technology, for example, takes claims and proprietary data to identify patients at risk of not adhering to their medications. It tells us who needs intervention and when and how to reach them effectively.

The platform gives us information that’s tailored to the population. That means it tells us things like seniors prefer to be called, not texted. So, when our call center employees call senior members, they are responsive to the intervention.

We’re using technology to enable and enhance human interaction, rather than replace it – and it’s working even better than we could have hoped.”