|Are Consumers Getting The Information They Need From Health Plans?
More than 74 percent of those responding do not believe
that MCOs are adequately providing and addressing the information needs
of today’s healthcare consumer, according to the"Managed Care Leadership Survey" sponsored by the Managed Care Information Center. Only 21 percent thought health plans were doing an adequate job.
There was so much of a response from survey participants
on this subject that your editors have included more comments on this
discussion in this issue. For instance, one respondent who said the
health plans are not fulfilling the needs for information, said health
plans have "too much control on their part, not enough for the savvy
Part of the problem may be that needs are highly
diverse, said Peter Kongstvedt, P.R., a principal with Kongstvedt
Company, LLC, a consulting firm. "It becomes very difficult to meet
them. Also consumers don’t necessarily trust MCOs to provide
unbiased information." However, Kongstvedt acknowledged that "progress
is being made."
Another reason health plans may not be hitting their
mark, as one respondent said, is "the goalsof the plans sometimes are
not the goals of the consumer."
"Prevention is the best form of healthcare and is the
most affordable for all concerned. Most MCOs I know have an excellent
variety of health education materials designed to inform and promote
wellness and prevention," said Bill Govostes of Health Watch Inc., a
national corporate health screening company.
A survey participant from a solutions provider said
health plans "are starting to (hit their mark) with personal health
records, etc., but they have a long way to go."
A government regulator offered that there is a lack of
coordinated EMRs as well as a "lack of telemedicine and/or video
medicine as well. We live in an age where consumers do banking, some
educational classes, etc., all online at their convenience except for
healthcare – consumers still need to go to providers’
Monday to Friday office hours which does not work for most consumers
who work. Some things do not require you to be seen in person and could
be handled via electronic or Internet communication."
"We’re still in the dark ages with respect to technology," added Ferris Taylor of NextFitness.
On a more positive note, an industry consultant said the
situation is getting better. "But still not where it needs to be. I
think there needs to be increased focus on providing financial
information to members, especially those in CDHC."
Another consultant reasoned that robust information programs from MCOs would be "too expensive with questionable ROI."
The health plans are doing this "partially," observed
Tom Kaye with Rxman. "This is a continuing challenge to place more
information at the hands of the consumer. There is a plethora of
information on the Internet, but we find a small number who engaged the
knowledge and use it. Self care is an excellent example of lacking
adoption, engagement and follow through," Kaye said.
Source: Managed Care Leadership Survey, Managed Care Information Center, www.themcic.com.