Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

Health Insurers Fail to Measure Up to Members’ Communication Expectations

Who is communicating to health insurance plan members? A new study from J.D. Power says that it’s not the health insurers. 60% of private plan members say they were never contacted by their healthcare plan provider with updates regarding the coronavirus pandemic. 54% couldn’t say if their insurance plan covered telehealth, which has become a major focus for many insurers.

In an interview with FierceHealthcare, James Beem, J. D. Power’s managing director of global healthcare intelligence, summed up the lack of communication: “Health plan members have an expectation that health insurance companies do that, but I’m not certain whether or not health insurance companies feel that’s part of their major role, so there’s a disconnect there.”

Beem stated that this was part of a larger disconnect between consumer expectation and the communication that health insurers actually offer their plan members. Meanwhile, a lack of awareness regarding updates to healthcare offerings hinders their chance at succeeding in the marketplace. Low adoption rates for new services which could improve health outcomes or lower costs across the board might just be due to a lack of communication.

Virtual Waiting Rooms Are the Latest Tech Addition to Healthcare

As COVID-19 continues to change the face of daily healthcare, the newest tech update to the traditional doctors’ office is the virtual waiting room. Pioneered by Banner Health, a medical group running practices across the west from California to Nebraska, this concept does away with the usual paperwork and check-in process which typically begins every doctor’s appointment. Instead, patients interact with a chatbot to complete tasks once performed in the doctor’s office, from intake forms to instructions on when to go to the exam room. The long preamble in the waiting room is now done virtually, whether at home or waiting in the car outside.

LifeLink, the company behind the chatbot, believes their application’s natural, conversational language style makes it easy for anyone to use, even if they’re not necessarily comfortable with tech. As minimizing person-to-person contact continues to change the way patients and doctors interact, it’s likely more contactless solutions like the virtual waiting room will become part of everyday healthcare.

CEO of Amazon Healthcare Venture Haven Steps Down

Stating he wants to spend more time working on COVID-19 response, the CEO of Haven has stepped down from his post. Atul Gawande, M.D., will remain on Haven’s board of directors. The first CEO of Haven, Jack Stoddard, stepped down after nine months on the job.

Haven, a venture between Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway, caused a stir in the health insurance market when it was announced in 2018. Haven stated the company’s goals were to improve patient experience, lower costs, and improve health outcomes for the U.S.-based employees of these three companies. While the industry might rightfully have expected some shake-ups from the venture, the company has not pushed any major initiatives in healthcare as of yet.

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