Health IT

How IBX is undertaking a “ground game” to educate, engage consumers in exchanges

To reach untapped populations who might benefit the most – but know the least – about health insurance exchanges, Pennsylvania insurer Independence Blue Cross is borrowing some fundamental strategies used in the most recent presidential campaigns. In the same way that presidential campaigns use number crunching to guide their efforts, the non-profit payer organization is […]

To reach untapped populations who might benefit the most – but know the least – about health insurance exchanges, Pennsylvania insurer Independence Blue Cross is borrowing some fundamental strategies used in the most recent presidential campaigns.

In the same way that presidential campaigns use number crunching to guide their efforts, the non-profit payer organization is using technology and data to pinpoint pockets of young people who wouldn’t otherwise get insurance coverage and educate those populations about their options.

Dan Hilferty, president and CEO, told a crowd at CONVERGE on Tuesday that the challenge is convincing these “invincible” populations that establishing a patient-centered medical home and a pattern of care will help keep them healthy. IBX’s education efforts have spanned everything from mobile apps to sending staff to Phillies baseball games, where these populations congregate.

Developing products for certain populations, and coming up with effective ways of reaching those populations, is nothing new. Hilferty referenced a challenge the insurer faced years ago in trying to improve access to care for pregnant teens in the Medicare population, many of whom did not have a support network of providers.

“We couldn’t connect with them early on,” he said. “We sent certified letter, but no one opens certified letters.” Then someone came up with the idea of sending caseworkers to put bibs on front doors with a number that these women could call for prenatal care. “Suddenly, the wall came down,” he said. “Once we made contact, once we built a trusting relationship […] there was a population that now had the ability to manage their care with the support of this network.”

What is new is the competition that IBX, once considered the “insurer of last resort” in its five-county Pennsylvania market, according to Hilferty, is seeing these days. “This is a compliment to our competition – these publicly traded entities have become more connected in a local way,” he said.

To stay ahead of the game, IBX has also turned outside of its own walls to find new ways to engage current and potential customers. It’s hosted an innovation challenge and is one of the organizations powering the Philly accelerator DreamIt Health.

[Photo from Twitter user @SPulim]