Digital Health at Scale: The Payor Perspective

The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed efforts by health insurers to expand reimbursement for telehealth services and digital health tools, and develop and invest in their own digital health technology. Health insurers, who increasingly play a hybrid role of payor, innovator and provider, have a vested interest in helping consumers manage chronic diseases and engage in preventive care from home, both during the public health emergency and after.

Joined by leaders from Humana, Oscar, and Medorion, we discussed the role of health insurers in the evolving digital health market, reimbursement pathways for digital tools and innovative partnerships between technology companies and health insurers. Click here to listen to the webinar recording, and read on for highlights from the program.

PROGRAM INSIGHTS

  • COVID-19 has accelerated the integration of digital health into the traditional health insurance framework. Pre-COVID-19, health insurers were using digital health tools to help their members find providers, access care and manage health conditions. COVID-19 has hastened health plans’ efforts toward vertical integration of digital health technology. Health insurers at the forefront of this effort are focused on creating a consumer-centric, digitally enabled and fully integrated healthcare ecosystem to enhance the member experience, bend the cost curve and carve out an essential (and expanded) role for themselves in the future of healthcare. As consumer behavior continues to change as a result of COVID-19, health insurers will have to be responsive to the way their members are getting care and interacting with the healthcare system.
  • Health insurers are uniquely situated to leverage digital health technologies. Data-driven technology is only as good as the data behind it. Due to the critical role health insurers play in paying for healthcare services, they have insight into member patterns of care and utilization that can be used to target interventions, influence member decision-making and improve health. Investments in digital tools and analytics, as well as strategic partnerships with technology companies, will allow for increased leverage of this valuable data, improved integration of member health information and enhanced member engagement.
  • Interoperability with existing health IT systems is crucial to break down barriers to digital health implementation. Healthcare has been grappling with data interoperability challenges for decades. To scale and make the information from digital tools actionable as part of a larger care plan, digital health platforms must also be interoperable with existing health IT systems. Interoperability will also allow insurers to gather a more complete picture of a member’s longitudinal health data and enable them to better support member health.
  • Health insurers and their legal teams will need to remain nimble amidst the rapidly changing regulatory environment. Keeping up with changing regulations during the COVID-19 public health emergency while planning to scale up in terms of technology implementations is a delicate balance. Though federal, state and local agencies appreciate that digital health tools and telemedicine have much potential in terms of patient care, health insurance companies remain vigilant of privacy and security risks and continue to be constrained in their ability to provide members with devices and other technologies that facilitate access to digital tools.
  • Reimbursement pathways over the lifecycle of the digital tool must be a critical consideration. It is critical that digital health technology developers understand how the technology will be used within the healthcare ecosystem in order to evaluate potential reimbursement pathways that will support development and ongoing operation of the tool. Examples include supporting a health insurer’s care management functions versus providing a direct medical service to members. Developers targeting reimbursement from health insurers should think about the health are regulatory landscape very early in the development process and craft a product that does not require later modifications in order to achieve compliance.

 

Kate McDonaldKate McDonald
Kate McDonald focuses her practice on transactional and regulatory counseling for clients in the health care industry, with particular focus on federal and state health care government programs and the intersection between health care payors and providers. Kate regularly advises health insurers, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), health care government contractors, health care providers and other clients on compliance with health care laws and regulations, particularly in connection with Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, Medicaid managed care, the Affordable Care Act, state insurance laws, and state licensure and professional practice regulations. Read Kate McDonald's full bio.


Marshall E. Jackson, Jr.Marshall E. Jackson, Jr.
Marshall E. Jackson, Jr. focuses his practice on transactional and regulatory counseling for clients in the health care industry, as well as advises clients on the legal, regulatory and compliance aspects of digital health. Marshall provides counseling and advice to hospitals and health systems, private equity firms and their portfolio companies, post/sub-acute providers, physician practices, and other public and private health care companies in a variety of complex transactions and health regulatory compliance matters. Read Marshall Jackson's full bio.


Winnie UluochaWinnie Uluocha
Winnie Uluocha advises all segments of the healthcare industry, including hospitals, health systems, pharmacies, private equity investors and their platform companies, and other healthcare clients. Read Winnie Uluocha's full bio: https://www.mwe.com/people/uluocha-winnie/

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