The way millennials use healthcare is different from other generations, according to Matthew Neidich, head of Premera Blue Cross’s (Premera) newest health insurance plan, Peak Care. They don’t want to wait six months for a doctor’s appointment. They’re more likely to use urgent care. They want to be able to manage their healthcare on their smart phones, but technology isn’t enough to address all of their needs.
Premera and Pierce County, Washington’s largest healthcare system, MultiCare, saw an opportunity to make healthcare easier. They wanted to create a new health plan for the region that could address not only millennials’ healthcare needs and preferences but appeal to others who find the current healthcare system inconvenient and unresponsive to their needs. The partnership combines Premera’s health insurance expertise with MultiCare’s hospital and clinic system, including more than 3,500 providers. It’s already attracted a significant millennial membership.
Finding ways to connect millennials to care is particularly important now. A recent Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America report® finds that millennials are less healthy than previous generations were at the same age. The analysis finds that health actually begins to decline around age 27.
A welcome phone call, and a single point of contact
Peak Care rolled out on Jan. 1 in an unusual way. Each new member received a call from a nurse at one of MultiCare’s hospitals or clinics, welcoming them to the plan and asking whether they had any immediate health needs.
To make the experience seamless for members, Premera and MultiCare data are fully integrated, says Neidich. With that kind of insight into both electronic systems, “the nurse was empowered to answer any questions about deductibles, for example, or about finding a provider,” he explains. Going forward, Peak Care members have a single point of contact—a concierge—for all of their questions.
Technology and high touch meet needs at the right time, right place, for the right level of care
Neidich says Peak Care deliberately pairs personalized attention with a suite of digital services to meet members where they want to be met. “We’re enabling members to access care in a ‘digital-first’ setting, which the millennial population is increasingly expecting,” says Neidich. “They can have a virtual doctor visit for a sore throat, access phone-based behavioral health counseling or call our mobile emergency triage service,” says Neidich. This affordable and convenient digital triage service allows a nurse to determine over the phone whether a member needs to come to an ER or if they need an ER doctor to come straight to their home for mobile treatment. The doctor comes with a mobile X-ray, can perform basic blood tests, strep tests, stitch up wounds or even set a broken bone. And the whole visit could cost hundreds of dollars less than a typical ER trip.
Neidich believes that simplifying healthcare and making it more responsive to member needs might encourage millennials to take advantage of more preventive benefits, including screenings and checkups, to help them stay healthier longer.
Premera Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.