If you’re wondering why a health insurance company like Florida Blue would be committed to harnessing the disruptive power of digital health, you wouldn’t be the first person to question our involvement. The short answer is we’re passionate about helping people and communities in Florida achieve better health, and digital health is one avenue to achieve that goal. The longer answer provides a bit more context about why Florida Blue embraces innovation.
Digital health really has its roots in the health care consumerism trend that started about ten years ago. Several things converged which fundamentally changed how people approached their own health:
- Web sites like WebMD, founded in 2005, gave people seeking medical answers a trusted resource that allowed them to research their own health conditions and ailments.
- The rise of social media and online patient forums accelerated how people connected to others like them, and allowed users to compare information and alternative treatments to what may have been prescribed by their doctor.
- The cost of health care continued to escalate year-over-year while people’s personal income fell with the start of the recession in 2007. Payers, providers, and especially entrepreneurs explored how health care delivery could be more efficient, affordable and accessible.
- Mobile device use enjoyed record growth as wireless subscriber connections in the US grew from 255 million in 2007 to 326 million in 2012.
- I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the impact that the health care reform law (widely known as “Obamacare”) and the ensuing political conversations had on our industry. For the first time, access to health insurance as a right, not a privilege, was on the minds of many.
As consumers became empowered in this way, the stage was set for serious disruption in the health field. Florida Blue took early and innovative steps to embrace these empowered consumers, as evidenced by the opening of our first retail Florida Blue Center in 2006. As an organization, we later realized the business opportunity to propel our digital innovation efforts by partnering with Healthbox, a health care start-up accelerator in 2012. With this partner, we were ready to start solving some of health care’s biggest challenges.
Etect, an ingestible microchip company, was one of six companies in our first Healthbox accelerator program. Their patented solution offers an advanced alternative to the early product on the market today. With the Etect solution, the chip is embedded on the pill capsule itself and is then activated by the acid in the stomach. The Etect advancement is critical to the primary use case of medication adherence, which we know is a significant factor in managing overall health outcomes.
These and other meaningful solutions from our Healthbox companies are changing the face of healthcare. At Florida Blue, we are proud to be a part of advancing this change, bringing new health solutions to the market.
About the author: Renée Finley is vice president of innovation and market intelligence for Florida Blue. In this role, she is responsible for promoting and enabling an enterprise-wide culture of innovation and imagination to successfully transition Florida Blue to a health solutions company. Connect with Renee on LinkedIn.