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The Most Important Mobile Capabilities, According to Policyholders

PwC's Health Research Institute released consumer research that indicates what health insurance customers expect from their insurers' mobile applications.

Do you forget when to take your prescription medications, or only remember long-since-scheduled doctors' appointments when the receptionist calls with your 24-hour reminder? Then perhaps you are the type of health insurance consumer who ranked "Alerts and Reminders" as the most important feature of a hypothetical insurer's mobile application in a recent PwC Health Research Institute survey.

PwC surveyed 1,000 health insurance customers last fall and asked: "If your insurer were to provide a mobile application, how important would the following functions be?" "Alerts and Reminders" and "Access to your personal health record" were the top-ranking answers, separated only by a tenth of a percent (73.1% to 73%). "Access to specific disease info/products" and "Provider/specialist search" were next.

Consumers demonstrate a preference for mobile applications that allow them to have better knowledge and control over their own healthcare decisions," PwC wrote in the report. "Disease management apps that encourage individuals to share the details of their day-to-day health experiences can help providers and insurers keep tabs on patients and improve care management."

[Cigna lets agents text for quotes]

More than a third of 25- to 44-year-old respondents to the survey reported using health and wellness apps regularly, PwC further reported. It's crucial, therefore, for health insurers to establish a targeted mobile strategy, the company wrote:

Smartly designed mobile applications can provide a competitive edge, especially for younger consumers. But to see the biggest return on investment, insurers should think about conducting targeted market analysis, assessing the value of popular/high-use apps for activities such as exercise tracking and food intake, and building on mobile applications that have already proven successful with other audiences.

Rounding out the list of desired capabilities were:

  • Ability to track insurance claims: 66.6%

  • Health and wellness apps: 64.6%

  • Browsing insurer website and products: 62.6%

  • Insurance plan enrollment and status: 61.6%

  • Ability to connect to wearable technology: 57.3%

[The mobile employee -- as well as the mobile customer -- are here to stay. Is your insurance company prepared? Learn how to set up and maintain a mobile infrastructure that can support today's needs and tomorrow's expected mobile demands. Attend the From BYOD to 802.11ac: How to Build A Next-Generation Mobile Infrastructure session at Interop 2014 in Las Vegas, March 31-April 4.
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Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
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3/13/2014 | 5:17:54 PM
re: The Most Important Mobile Capabilities, According to Policyholders
Makes you wonder how much of insurance buying/selection is based on whether or not the insured's preferred doctor is in the new network rather than finding a new doctor with a better plan. People are very close to their doctors.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
3/11/2014 | 7:01:48 PM
re: The Most Important Mobile Capabilities, According to Policyholders
Right -- at least until their coverage changes! And if that's the case the odds are they are dealing with a different carrier, or an exchange, and are starting from scratch.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
3/10/2014 | 5:29:13 PM
re: The Most Important Mobile Capabilities, According to Policyholders
I agree that alerts are a clear priority, but I'm surprised that provider/specialist search isn't a bit higher. I guess once most people find a provider, they stick with it and only need to use that function once.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
3/7/2014 | 1:02:04 AM
re: The Most Important Mobile Capabilities, According to Policyholders
Yes, alerts/reminders still seem to be the primary function that consumers like in mobile financial services offerings.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
3/6/2014 | 6:19:48 PM
re: The Most Important Mobile Capabilities, According to Policyholders
I guess "browsing site/products" includes provider search? I would think that would be one of the top uses of a health insurer app (akin to finding a restaurant via Open Table or Yelp), but maybe -- especially for younger customers who don't have frequent interactions with a doctor or healthcare provider -- unless you have a chronic condition or new illness/injury that's not a priority. Otherwise, I'm not surprised with the high ranking for alerts/reminders -- that jibes with what we have seen in banking, where SMS text alerts continue to be a popular feature of many banks' mobile offerings.
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