Health Plan's Secret Sauce is Social Media
Though the pilot project has ended, the site is still being used by Magellan and for the company's health plan customers who buy it under a private label to brand the site how they want. Gondek says she is seeing a lot of interest from Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and others who are interested in the site's potential for bridging care gaps and for chronic conditions.
"We've started to talk to employers, ACO partners with which our healthplans are collaborating, that are looking for ways to give the medical practitioners something in their toolbox that has some behavioral components to it for those individuals who do not want to see behavioral practitioners or specialists. We have interest in the west and southeast," she says.
The way it works is patients sign in with their usernames (it can be whatever the patients choose) and then check in with an emoticon to indicate how they're feeling. There are 28 different emotions a user can choose from, ranging from happy to in pain. The small icons are also color coded red, yellow, or green. The color is important and can serve as an SOS signal of sorts. For example, if a user checks in as being "in pain," which is red, then everyone in that user's support group—the Facebook equivalent of friends—is notified and they can jump to offer support. Friends can then comment, and also hit the equivalent of a "like" button, except the statements are empathic, ranging from, "I relate," to "I feel like that too" (sic).
Patients can also choose which groups pertain to them, such as depression or alcoholism, and they'll be connected with other patients in a social media forum that offers what traditional support groups do not—anonymity. There are also real meetings online as well as webinars with doctors or other medical experts, explains Gondek.
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