The Best Tutors in Healthcare are Virtual

July 14, 2015 Ray Catudal

Virtual coach imageAn avatar or virtual coach does so much, including helps consumers understand options, helps calculate subsidies, explains the process of applying for health insurance, and even helps consumers enroll.

According to a recent study 37-57% of patients were interested in using a web-based tool to manage their health, but only 4-8% actually do.

There are so many great tools out there but so few are being used. There are cost calculators and drug calculators and questionnaires. All have the same raison d'etre: making more educated health consumers. So what’s missing? Why are people not actually using what’s out there?

How to Make It Not Feel Like Homework

I think it’s because it feels like homework and who wants extra homework? In most schools across the country, kids have to do homework. The question isn’t whether or not they have homework as much as it’s how to get them to engage? How do you make it more fun?

Image of girl doing homework

The same challenges exist when buying health insurance. It’s like homework – it’s not necessarily fun and it can be hard, but it’s something you have to do. So as the company offering health insurance how do you encourage the consumer to take the first step?

This is where there is a lot of room for improvement on the part of companies offering health insurance. People need a nudge or a little push to get started. The problem with all the new, shiny tools is that the consumer is left trying to figure them out on their own. Kids don’t like being left alone to figure out their homework – and neither do people who are trying to sign up for health insurance.

Or How to Make Homework More Engaging

Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to understand if websites provide animation and when you add voice to this it makes it even more engaging. Just like it’s easier to work with a tutor than to do it on your own; it’s easier to find the right health plan with a personal guide or navigator. That’s why the ACA funds “navigators” or “assistors,” people that get paid for every person they help enroll. The government is making $67 million dollars available this year to finance these navigators.

But there is a different type of navigator, the virtual one that can be just as helpful and in some instances more helpful than a human navigator. An Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) or avatar can produce the same high-level advice as a human. The difference is an avatar can do it over and over, without taking a day off.

It's Like Having Your Very Own Navigation Team

Image of navigation teamAn IVA or avatar is the first step in engaging the consumer - and helping them navigate to the right place at the right time. Unlike a human navigator, a virtual navigator can initiate a conversation upon a person’s arrival on a website. The combination of an IVA taking the first step and subsequent interactions leads to a higher utilization of existing tools and ultimately to more conversions.

An avatar or virtual coach helps consumers understand options; helps calculate subsidies or explain the process of applying for health insurance. Just like human navigators or assistors, the IVA will help more people enroll. Unlike a human navigator, an IVA bridges the gap between inaction and action by taking the first step and initiating a conversation with a consumer. And, like a student’s tutor, the virtual tutor can easily turn a poor or average experience into a positive and engaging one.


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About the Author

Ray Catudal

As Director of Healthcare Consulting, Ray is focused on CodeBaby’s healthcare specific customers and delivering on CodeBaby’s mission of customer centricity. With over 20 years of experience in medical devices, healthcare and technology, specifically: ehealth, health insurance, and software, Ray is a subject matter expert who contributes to industry articles, and speaks at trade shows and events.

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