For their part, payers are busy figuring out ways to go directly to patients, rather than their traditional interface to employers and providers. "More and more, we're selling to individuals," says Tom Noland, Humana senior vice president of corporate communications. Humana's goal is to "make healthy things fun and fun things healthy."
To that end, Humana built an innovation center at its Louisville, KY, headquarters and Noland brought his vice president of innovation Shankar Ram to his SXSW session.
Where all this really starts to click is when payers start to offer direct incentives to patients for healthy behaviors. A year ago, Humana launched a new subsidiary, HumanaVitality, to do just that. "It's just beginning," Noland says.
Launched in conjunction with Johannesburg-based Discovery Holdings, HumanaVitality builds on Discovery's success in South Africa, Noland says. Patients upload biometric screenings to HumanaVitality and receive rewards as well as a sobering Vitality Age to see how their lifestyle is affecting their health.
In the healthcare system to come, can everyone truly be held accountable in this way? It's too early to tell. But the same tech hipster community that took Twitter viral is now part of the conversation. Don't be surprised if they're increasingly up to speed on the fee-for-service versus accountable care issue. And as SXSW observers have learned from history, where those hipsters go, customers will follow.