Personalized Healthcare In A High-Tech World

Healthcare is a complex subject for businesses and individuals alike.

A 2019 survey by PolicyGenius, an online insurance marketplace, found that over a quarter of the 1,500 people surveyed avoided an unspecified medical treatment because they were uncertain about their coverage.

The same survey found many struggled to understand basic terms like copay, deductible, and premium, and fewer than a third of those surveyed could correctly define all three.

Understanding coverage options and healthcare networks, calculating copays and deductibles, or even sifting through guidance on wellness and preventive care can be overwhelming.

A website or app might give you the information you need, but what if you want to actually talk to someone to better understand your options?

The value of face-to-face interaction and personalization in healthcare extends beyond the doctor-patient relationship. The human element plays a key role for health insurers too, as insurers focus more and more on how to keep members healthy and guide them on a more personalized healthcare journey.

Capital BlueCross, for example, made personalized healthcare a priority when it opened its first Capital BlueCross Connect health and wellness center at The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley, Center Valley, in December of 2012. The retail center was then simply called Capital Blue.

The thought was to create a space where people could meet experts in health plans, fitness, or nutrition, get a biometric screening, or take a fitness class. “It was all about the face-to-face interaction,said Stacey Clark, retail center manager at Capital BlueCross.

It worked.

A second location opened at Hampden Marketplace in Enola, Cumberland County, in July 2015, and a third opened just this month at the WellSpan Health Campus in Chambersburg, Franklin County. A fourth center will open soon in Capital BlueCross’ corporate offices in Allentown.

The centers were recently rebranded as Capital BlueCross Connect, a name that better reflects the overall mission of the centers, said David Skerpon, the company’s senior vice president of Enterprise Marketing.

“One of our core goals at Capital BlueCross is to help people connect in ways that benefit their physical and mental wellness, whether it’s connecting them with health resources, connecting them with their community, or helping them connect with each other, Skerpon said.

In June, after a four-month, pandemic-related closure, the Enola and Center Valley locations reopened on a limited basis.

In pre-COVID-19 times, big smiles, handshakes, and hugs awaited new and returning customers, Clark said. Now, even in the masked, by-appointment-only, non-hugging COVID-19 world, face-to-face interactions are vital. “The human touch matters, Clark said.

It mattered to a married couple, one of whom was dying, who came in to learn about their options moving forward. I cried with them,” Clark said, adding that the couple just needed answers.

Weeks later the surviving spouse returned and specifically asked for Clark. “I really, really treasure that people trust us to be a part of their journey through life,” Clark said.

“People want us to be the fine print readers,” she explained. “That’s what we are. We summarize. We simplify. We understand their situation. Some have lost or changed jobs. Some are seniors who have questions about Medicare. We sit with them, and really try to understand what they need. What is important? What is the family situation? Making sure it’s a good fit.”

One size does not fit all. “Proper healthcare is not designed with a cookie cutter,” Clark said. “We focus on individuals.”

Sometimes folks just want to take a fitness class, lower their cholesterol, or simply learn how to get healthier.

Following a healthy-cooking demonstration held at the Enola location, one man approached Clark to confess his newfound love of spinach. I have never eaten spinach in my life and I tried spinach, he told Clark.

“We do more than sell health plans here,” she said. “We change lives.