How Elevance Health is enhancing consumer experience and health outcomes with digital, virtual healthcare

In recent years, the healthcare industry has seen an unprecedented surge in virtual and digital services, contributing significantly to an enhanced consumer experience and better health outcomes. The movement towards digitalization is accelerating as patients, clinicians, and healthcare organizations pivot towards additional modes of care delivery that can help prioritize patient safety, reduce the burden on healthcare systems, and ultimately improve consumer experience.

Consumer-Centered Digital Access

This digital evolution in healthcare is adding to a patient-centric approach. It gives patients increased access to health records, appointment scheduling, and medical consultations. It empowers patients with autonomy, accountability, and transparency, elements that are essential for an exceptional patient experience. In addition, it helps enhance care coordination, allowing healthcare professionals to potentially remove redundancy in tests and ensure smoother patient transitions across different care settings.

Members with Elevance Health's affiliated health plans are integrating technology throughout their daily lives – retail, streaming, etc. They seek the same convenience and efficiency in their healthcare journey. To meet these needs, we provide access to Sydney Health, an award-winning engagement platform that offers a variety of digital and virtual healthcare services, from provider visits to interactive chat features, comprehensive benefits information, and claims information for medical, pharmacy, dental, and vision services. 

The use of the Sydney Health platform streamlines the healthcare process, resulting in enhanced patient engagement and improved health outcomes. Members of Elevance Health-affiliated health plans who use digital technologies are 7% more likely to visit their primary care providers compared to members who are not registered with Sydney Health.

Virtual Healthcare Technology Helps Consumers Find Care

When devising strategies aimed at enhancing the consumer journey, virtual healthcare technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), are proving instrumental. Personalized Match is one example of an AI algorithm incorporated into Sydney Health's Find Care tool. 

The Find Care search tool provides affiliated members with both in-person and virtual options and utilizes Elevance Health's patented and award-winning Personalized Match algorithm to present affiliated members with the best match for their care. 

This shift towards AI-assisted personalized healthcare can significantly transform how healthcare is delivered, making it more proactive, preventive, and patient-driven. The ability to match patients more quickly to a healthcare provider that meets a person’s needs not only streamlines the process but also increases the probability of better patient outcomes.

Communication is Key

Another dimension that digital healthcare brings to the consumer experience is communication. Virtual consultations help address the barriers of time and space, giving patients more time with their healthcare providers. Messaging platforms enable patients to communicate with their providers and care teams, creating an open line of communication that fosters shared decision-making. 

With Sydney Health, affiliated members can arrange scheduled or on-demand virtual visits with providers, if available by specific plan, engage in phone or text chat with providers, or plan remote monitoring for chronic conditions. The Sydney Health online chat, a digital assistant featured on the Sydney Health mobile app or website, responds to frequently asked queries about healthcare and health insurance, provides plan details, assists in locating healthcare providers, answers inquiries on prescription matters, and more. 

The Impact of Virtual-First Health Plans on Consumer Experience

As digital health technology continues to advance and the healthcare industry evolves, many people want the ability to use more digital methods, like virtual primary care offered by virtual first plans. Among people surveyed who have a primary healthcare provider, 2 in 5 (41%) wish their provider used more digital forms of communication such as text messages and emails and 71% would use a mobile texting app to chat with a primary care provider in real-time if they had access to it. 

Virtual first plans give consumers affordable access to virtual care options, first. While each plan boasts its own set of unique offerings, some plans can include access to routine wellness care, chronic condition management, behavioral healthcare, and more. 

One of the most innovative features of virtual first health plans is their capacity to connect care data from multiple visits and providers throughout the healthcare system. In many cases, care data can move seamlessly between virtual first providers, in-person doctors, and specialists. This helps reduce redundancies and gives providers easier access to the health information they need to provide continuity of care. While Anthem Link Virtual First, Elevance Health's virtual health plan, offers virtual care options first, members always have access to in-person healthcare providers. This approach enhances consumer experience by providing flexible, efficient, and comprehensive healthcare services.

As technology and healthcare continue to intertwine, the future promises a seamless, integrated, consumer-focused healthcare experience built around quality care and improved outcomes. Elevance Health is consistently evolving new strategies each day, focusing on addressing consumer needs, enhancing engagement in digital and virtual healthcare, and advancing comprehensive care outcomes.

Anil Bhatt is global chief information officer at Elevance Health.

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