In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Oliver Wyman Partner Sam Glick explored how health companies are repurposing the innovations of online retailers to boost consumer engagement. Aetna-owned iTriage was one of the companies highlighted. iTriage is a free smartphone app that allows people to search a database of symptoms for probable causes, and then points people to the most appropriate and affordable care for the situation. It offers detailed descriptions and cost information on recommended tests and treatments, as well as information about nearby providers. It also takes into account the individual’s specific insurance coverage. Here, iTriage President Yaniv Kanfi shares his thoughts on what healthcare can learn from online retailers, as well as the future of digital innovation in healthcare:
Oliver Wyman Health: What is the mission of iTriage?
Yaniv Kanfi: Earlier this year, iTriage merged with WellMatch, another Aetna business. This partnership combines WellMatch’s powerful price transparency data with the medical information from iTriage that millions of consumers trust to make confident decisions.
We have the collective vision of empowering health mastery, and our mission is to deliver products and services for the full spectrum of personalized health and well-being needs at any stage of life. Together, these businesses are building products and services designed to meet the full spectrum of personalized health and well-being needs for any stage of life.
OWH: How is iTriage utilizing lessons from online retailers to improve the consumer experience and empower health consumers?
YK: To achieve better outcomes and take better care of people at less cost, we must, in some ways, fundamentally reinvent a broken society pillar. I’ve spent my career crafting and building digital experiences for brands that create a deep emotional connection for people—the kind of connection that doesn’t really exist yet in healthcare. A central part of that is omnichannel retail, which provides consumers with a streamlined experience that’s centered around them. Through partnerships with employers, Accountable Care Organizations, and other innovators in digital healthcare, we’re looking to weave that model into the consumer healthcare journey.
Eliminating silos and focusing on how we can work together to empower consumers with truly useful and powerful technologies will ignite the shift the healthcare industry needs.
OWH: Studies show many consumers don’t use transparency tools – even when they are available to them. What will it take to get health consumers to use transparency tools in a meaningful way?
YK: Standalone transparency tools that aren’t integrated into a more holistic personalized consumer experience aren’t intuitive, which is why no one uses them. Online retailers know they need to build a story around a product with more than just technical information to help their customers make decisions; they don’t require customers to go find that information on their own. That’s what we’re working on emulating in healthcare.
OWH: How does/can a digital tool like iTriage support population health efforts?
YK: We’re transforming from a tool into a platform – one that gets more intelligent with every interaction, focused on becoming an integral part of their daily lives. Through this deep relationship with individuals, we can anticipate patients’ needs based on data analytics. We partner with both employers and Accountable Care Organizations to guide their populations to the right care at the right time; and we provide them with a means for deeper employee and patient engagement, which leads to better health and better outcomes at lower cost.
OWH: Is the digital health revolution more than bells and whistles and apps? How do digital players help move the healthcare system to a more efficient, effective, and consumer-focused system?
YK: Instead of focusing on each other as competitors, digital health innovators need to begin collaborating and focusing on those digital products that have disrupted other industries as our true competitors. Eliminating silos and focusing on how we can work together to empower consumers with truly useful and powerful technologies will ignite the shift the healthcare industry needs.