In order to simplify healthcare processes for an audience outside its policyholders, UnitedHealthcare has released a free mobile app entitled Health4Me. The app helps users locate nearby care providers, review market prices for medical services, manage health expenses, and access a comprehensive view of what they can expect over the course of treatment.
UnitedHealthcare first launched mobile services back in 2010 with the introduction of its doctor and hospital search tool, which was soon followed by a mobile version of its full website. With the rapid growth of smartphones, the insurer sought to leverage mobile technology to offer a comprehensive healthcare service to all consumers, not just plan participants.
“We can personalize the experience in ways that we hadn’t yet been able to do with our online experience,” says Craig Hankins, VP of product for UnitedHealthcare. “We’re really trying to offer more value to more people, those that may be customers or future customers.”
Health4Me, available for iPhone and Android devices, offers a full view of what consumers can expect throughout treatment, from their first doctor visit to therapy or follow-up care. A function called QuickCare helps on-the-go users by providing a map to show where the closest convenience clinics and urgent care providers are located.
The app also contains a guest version of the myHealthcare Cost Estimator available through the member app, which allows users to review market average prices for more than 520 medical services encompassing 290 care episodes. This function holds information covering approximately 726,000 health care professionals and 5,600 hospitals. Cost estimates are based on available fee schedules, contracted rates or historical claims with the care provider.
The Health4Me project began in 2011. UnitedHealthcare worked with a Minneapolis-based firm called Modern Climate throughout early design work but has since used its in-house IT staff for development.
“What we were seeking was something that’s fairly intuitive and easy to navigate, but still offered a fresh feel and an aspect of personalization,” says Hankins. As an example, he describes Health4Me’s “Favorites” feature, which allows users to save the location and contact information for preferred care locations.
The app went live on Apple devices in January 2012; its Android launch quickly followed in March. Health4Me has since undergone various upgrades according to user feedback garnered through social media, call surveys, and comments found on the Apple Store and Google Play. Consumers don’t restrain their opinions, says Hankins, which has proven useful in app development. “We welcome that, because it’s not sugarcoated,” he explains.
User adoption of Health4Me has been its strongest in 2014, but developers continue to advance the platform. A mobile bill payment component is currently in the works.
Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio