Healthcare must innovate

By Torben Nielsen
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Mom showing her child something on her mobile phone.

Healthcare is complex, and often slow to change. Technology is evolving and changing the landscape across all industries. Its applications include everything from small devices in the palm of your hand to genetically modifying your own cells to combating cancer.

Innovation in healthcare has been lacking for years. I often say, “I work in health care during the day; then I go home to the 21st Century.”

If we are doing something different from the status quo, however small, that could be the start of something really big, that's innovation.

Many of innovations in healthcare over the past few years have been single point solutions. The trick is to create an integrated and seamless experience beyond this. 

So, what's Premera Blue Cross doing?

Often we hear that health plans only contact their customers after they receive care. In Alaska, we're changing that. When a customer  is about to engage with a healthcare system, we are now able to send them a text message from Premera with secure link to helpful information, like medication lists, to make visits with providers more productive.

That is just one example that we can harness the power of technology to change healthcare.

We're also working with one of our neighbors, Microsoft, to introduce a new self-service tool for our customers. Why Microsoft? Microsoft understands technology and is a world leader in artificial intelligence. We understand health care. Together, we're introducing a health bot to our customers with the goal for technology to transform how our customers can look up information about their benefits. The first pilot use case is available on Premera's mobile app on the Google Play Store and more advanced use cases will be added in the coming months.

Torben portraitAnother strong partnership that we are pursuing is with Cardinal Analytx, a portfolio company we invested in six months ago. Cardinal Analytx uses advanced machine learning to improve the quality of care to our customers and better predict and contain health care costs.

Our customers live in the 21st Century and we need to move with them. While there's still much we can do to close the gap between healthcare and technology, Premera strives to find opportunities that will help our customers lives.

Torben Nielsen is the vice president of Innovation & Strategic Investments at Premera. Nielsen joined Premera in 2017. Torben is the former co-founder and senior vice president of product and strategy for HealthSparq and served as the vice president of eBusiness for Cambia Health Solutions. Follow him on Twitter at @TorbenSNielsen 

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