Technology Tuesdays: Dragging health enrollment (kicking and screaming) into the 21st century!

By Qursum Qasim

This blog is part of Enroll America’s Technology Tuesdays blog series.

A windy Saturday morning in D.C. is generally an invitation to sleep in. But on a particular Saturday morning a couple weeks ago, I was glad to have braved the fierce winds to attend a technology-oriented workshop at Health Action 2012. Enrollment Enters the 21st Century: How Technology Is Modernizing Health Coverage offered an engaging glimpse into the many ways in which the creative use of technology can increase enrollment. The panelists presented practical strategies to overcome barriers that prevent eligible people from enrolling in coverage.

The workshop’s panelists were from different states, each with their own enrollment challenges. But their strategies all had one thing in common—creative and innovative uses of everyday technologies.

  • Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s Tracy Turner provided insight into how Oklahoma has revamped the Medicaid application process, becoming the first state in the country with an online Medicaid application that provides real-time eligibility determinations. Currently, the state receives 45 percent of applications through its online portal, and 25 percent of those applications are submitted outside of normal business hours. Because online applications do not replace the important role that live consumer assistance plays, consumers can also get help with online enrollment from approximately 800 different locations around the state.
  • Phillip Bergquist of the Michigan Primary Care Association highlighted the strategies that the Enroll Michigan campaign used that led to a 20 percent statewide increase in Medicaid and CHIP applications. The campaign’s innovative use of mobile websites, social media strategies (like Facebook ads and Twitter), and Google Apps successfully reached out to consumers to deliver key messages about enrollment, including application instructions and reminders about important deadlines. In addition to specific strategies, Bergquist also talked about how groups can measure the effectiveness of their technology-based efforts. More on that in a future blog!
  • Catherine Teare from California’s HealthCare Foundation concluded the workshop with an update on the UX 2014 project, detailing the research and design processes that are in progress to create a user-friendly exchange portal. UX 2014 is using information they have gathered from consumer focus groups and interviews around the country to design enrollment interfaces that can be accessed using a variety of different technologies (like computers, tablets, and mobile devices). The project will offer a model that states can tailor to suit their specific coverage programs.

Feedback Encouraged: This blog, and this series in particular, is intended to encourage discussion and brainstorming. Do you think a certain strategy or technology would work particularly well in simplifying enrollment into health coverage? What are the pitfalls or hurdles to overcome? What has your organization or state already tried that did or did not work well? We welcome your ideas via email (inquiries@enrollamerica.org), and in future blogs, we hope to highlight some of the feedback we receive.

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