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CIOs must be healthcare leaders to battle consumer confusion

Kenneth Corbin | Nov. 13, 2014
A new survey finds that healthcare consumers are worried and confused about Obamacare. Healthline CEO Dean Stephens urges CIOs of healthcare providers and others in the healthcare sector to mobilize to engage and inform consumers.

Stephens worries that even with the mandate to purchase health insurance that is a cornerstone of the ACA, too many Americans will remain passive consumers in the marketplace, either opting for the lowest-cost plan without considering their coverage needs, or opting to pay the penalty and go without insurance altogether.

In his call for healthcare firms to engage with consumers, Stephens draws a parallel to the trend toward personalized medicine, where providers tailor customized treatment plans based on the unique characteristics of their patients.

"The same thing applies for health information itself," Stephens says. "I think it's an investment in information and understanding how to match that information to your customers and realizing that there isn't an average -- they're all individuals."

Call to CIOs to Use Social Media to Promote Health Info
Stephens is appealing to CIOs and other business divisions at firms across the healthcare ecosystem to engage in social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as other online venues like patient forums or hospital websites to expand their consumer engagement and deliver information about health coverage that might help improve Americans' perception of the system that accounts for nearly 18 percent of U.S. GDP.

As it is, more than 80 percent of respondents in Healthline's poll said that they would give the U.S. health care system a "C" or worse, and just 32 percent said that they believe Obamacare is having a positive effect on the care that is provided. With stronger, more targeted outreach from the industry, Stephens believes those numbers could shift.

"We access information in a lot of different ways, and that access is actually widening, not narrowing," Stephens says. "[Chief] information officers need to think about all the various channels they need to be communicating to the public at large and also their consumers."


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