Tax and health care legislation have created chaos in many quarters in the health care field.

One key going forward is for consumers to take advantage of technological tools to help their decision-making, control costs and maintain their health, Regence BlueCross BlueShield President Angela Dowling told a Chamber of Medford/Jackson County forum audience Monday at Rogue Valley Country Club.

"Technology really empowers consumers to make decisions," Dowling said, adding activity is a powerful tool, as well.

She noted the recent news that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase are developing their own health care firm.

"If they can help propel some technology and we can all adopt it, there may be some positive change," she said.

 

Thousands of apps, programs, tools and websites are available to consumers, Dowling said. If consumers are required to keep up with six or seven websites or apps, it becomes too complicated, and the tools will fall into disuse.

"The challenge is when you're sick, you're not going to seek out these solutions," she said.

To counter that, Regence BlueCross BlueShield is developing a single place to track wellness and health care, she said. A pilot program is slated for July, with gradual expansion for testing at the end of the year. The goal is to make the single site available throughout its system in 2019.

"These are things you need to put in as part of your daily routine," Dowling said. "It is really hard to engage in health care from this perspective. We realize that you have to make it simple, you have to go to one place, you have to click on one particular need that you have. It has to be easy, has to be obvious, has to be seamless."

Wellness gamification, prescription ratings and comparisons, performance training, virtual medicine, wellness campaigns and weight management are among the components.

"I actually participated in wellness gamification," Dowling said. "I loved it for about a year, and then I switched to something different; I had done enough pushups and situps against co-workers that I think I was done. You have to change and make things new and fresh."

She said the company is working on a tool to compare prescription costs, effectiveness and alternatives.

"Oftentimes when you are given a prescription you have no idea whether this is the best prescription for this condition ... or the cost until you get to the pharmacy, and they're giving you that prescription," she said. "Sometimes there is sticker shock, sometimes you're pleasantly surprised. We want to give you the power to understand all of that, helping the physician pick the right prescription and that there is no sticker shock when you get to the pharmacy."

The health insurer is also pushing its active lifestyle campaign.

"Sitting is now the new smoking," Dowling said. "It's absolutely true. We all know that smoking is not healthy, but inactivity is as well."

The campaign is designed to counter sitting for hours without movement.

"Small movements make a big difference in your ability to concentrate and your overall health and well-being," she said. "Movement is good for us."

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or gstiles@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.