Small Health Plans Sharpen Their IT Strategies

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , October 24, 2012

In a surprising turn, smaller health plans are taking some of the same approaches to health IT strategies and investments as larger plans, a survey by Medecision shows.

Because of the small size (between 200,000 and 900,000 covered lives) of the some of the responding health plans, Medecision expected them to be in survival mode and focused on cost cutting, operational efficiencies, and core technology platforms, according to Ellen Donahue-Dalton, vice president of marketing at the  Wayne, PA-based healthcare management solutions company that sponsored the research study.

What the researchers found instead is that the smaller payers weren't so much in a cost containment mode as "we thought they would be. They were sort of broader in their preparation," says Donahue-Dalton.

That means the smaller plans are just as focused as the big guys on provider connectivity, data, and system interoperability, and consumer engagement.

The survey involved C-suite executives from nine health plans and used an online "bulletin board" focus group, which is a virtual group that can interact with the moderator as well as participants. The responses were collected over three weeks in April 2012 and included one-on-one follow up sessions.

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