Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Ohio (Anthem) developed the Anthem Skill to help members pursue medication adherence and better member engagement through Alexa-enabled devices.
”We work every day to create a data-driven, simple, and personal health care experience for our members,” said Steve Martenet, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio. “Expectations have evolved and people want secure and easy-to-use access to their health information across multiple devices including phones, tablets, computers and virtual assistants. Enhancing the Anthem skill for Alexa is just the latest step in our digital-first approach to healthcare.”
Through the Anthem Skill, Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based, artificial intelligence virtual assistant, can answer members’ questions from their Alexa-enabled tools or Amazon Echo. The virtual assistant can help patients maintain their treatment plan by assisting them with prescription refills, renewals, and helping them check their orders.
The Anthem Skill also enables 24/7 member engagement. Alexa responds to inquiries on a range of subjects including the balance in a health savings account or health reimbursement account, how close a patient is to meeting her deductible, the health plan’s out-of-pocket maximum, getting an identification card, and scheduling an appointment with member resources.
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Members are often confused about their benefits, and payer member engagement historically falls short of member expectations. To help reverse that trend, Alexa learned 200 healthcare terms to help members navigate their healthcare benefits.
However, one limitation is that members can only access information for their current plan. Previous plan information—whether it was through Anthem or another payer—is not available since Alexa is linked to the member’s current Anthem account information.
Anthem is already looking into potential enhancements for the Anthem Skill. The payer indicated that it might include vision plan information in future updates. At present, Alexa only gives access to commercial medical and dental plan information.
“The company will continue to further enhance the Anthem Skill through consumer feedback to determine what types of information individuals would find useful in navigating their healthcare,” Anthem promised.
Payers have tried a number of strategies to support beneficiary medication adherence. The variety of strategies that payers employ proves that technology may be a strong solution for medication adherence, but it is certainly not the only one.
Many payers seek to lower cost barriers to medication adherence. For example, in March 2020, Oscar Health announced its $3 Drug List. This new formulary identified common medications that are often used in chronic disease management and they lowered the price down to $3.
Other payers employ social support to encourage patients to stick to their prescription and treatment plans.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Rhode Island partnered with the Anchor Peer Recovery program to encourage medication adherence in substance abuse care. In a state wracked by opioids abuse, it is critical to ensure that patients have access to and are maintaining a recovery schedule. For patients who engaged in both medication assisted therapy and a peer recovery program, continuity of treatment was 65 percent more likely.
Due to the peer recovery program, which grouped present members in need with recovered volunteers, Blue Cross Blue Shield Rhode Island saw much higher medication assisted therapy participation in younger demographics.
However, sometimes technology can be a strong antidote to nonadherence.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) in Missouri saw high rates of medication nonadherence. They turned to predictive analytics to help develop medication adherence strategies for their members.
“By using predictive analytics, you can focus more on the individualized member, really understand current and historic utilization of prescribed medications, and then from there, really tailor the clinical outreach and the clinical education that goes along with that to reach out to the members,” Lori Rund, vice president of government programs at Blue KC, told HealthPayerIntelligence. “It really helps to personalize it more.”
Ensuring medication adherence will be key as payers find new ways to pursue chronic disease prevention and management.
Source: HealthPayer Intelligence