Posted by: AllinHIT
As a HealthIT consultant, I undoubtedly watch with much interest, the payer landscape in Health IT. Besides it being my job, a contributing factor to this interest is being raised in New England’s Hartford/Springfield area (the nations insurance capital), working an Aetna internship during my college junior year, and having a host of relatives and childhood friends employed by the insurance industry. Hence, I’ve watch two particular payer’s take the lead in using technology for better Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group and Aetna. With UnitedHealth Group at its heel, I must crown Aetna the leader with their announcement on February 25th, that members in Florida and Texas, will now have access to telehealth services 24 hours, 7 days a week. The service offers telephone and video consultations, utilizing their partner, TeleDoc, a large network of primary physicians.
Lets look at some Aetna properties in relationship to Health IT, and how it positions Aetna for the future. Aetna owns two large Health IT vendors addressing MU requirements, ActiveHealth (CDSS) and Medicity (HIE data aggregation). Its interesting to note that both had a huge and separate presence as HIMSS exhibitors last week! The combination of these two companys’ growth and potential, aligned with MU and adoption, will increase revenue down the road for Aetna. Having access to their employee’s PHI, is needed for cost containment and developing wellness programs, a great value proposition to their employer clients. Now with using telehealth for allergies, colds, bronchitis, and other minor conditions, Aetna will reduce hospital visits and it requires less administrative/billing costs. Lastly, lets not forget the benefits to the patient population it insures. Patients having easy access to care, saving time and money, is truly what gives Aetna the edge among payers in Health IT.
However, we must not overlook UnitedHealth Group, when answering the question of who is leading the payors. Their subsidiary’s include the coding powerhouse Ingenix, AIM Healthcare providing claims management, and their valued priced ATCB-ONC certified CareTracker EHR, UnitedHealth is not far behind Aetna. I guess the real question is, where are the other payors in relationship to Health IT?
Other payers are participating in Health IT pilots in telehealth, remote monitoring, texting medication reminders, etc. However, Aetna has stepped up from pilot to reality. By paying physicians a consultation fee of $38, with normal co-pays for patients, TeleDoc physicians have an opportunity to increase revenue, something rare, but welcomed among primary physicians!