Insurance & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


04:00 PM
Connect Directly

WellPoint Launches Mobile Provider Directory

WellPoint has launched a mobile version of its online provider directory -- an early indicator of where the health insurance industry may focus customer experience initiatives going forward.

In what could represent the next frontier for health insurers as they increasingly focus on delivering Web-based tools to members, Indianapolis-based WellPoint has launched a version of its provider directory specifically designed for use on mobile devices, such as cell phones and PDAs. Launched in May, the mobile provider finder tool -- accessible at -- currently is available to WellPoint's ($51.6 billion in total assets) affiliated health plan members in Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire. The health insurer plans to roll out the tool to its other markets throughout 2008.

"Our strategy is to launch, learn and iterate," says Mary Scanlon, WellPoint SVP for e-business and consumer technology. "So we're getting it out into the market, getting users engaged in the tool -- focusing on our Northeast market first -- and then, after that, rolling it out across the rest of our markets."

The driving force behind the initiative, according to Mark Boxer, president and CEO for WellPoint's operations, technology and government services business unit, was the insurer's continued focus on improving the customer experience. As smart phones and other mobile devices have become a bigger part of consumers' everyday lives, Boxer says, it makes sense for WellPoint to optimize versions of its online capabilities for mobile platforms.

Great Expectations

"Members are bringing their expectations to the e-commerce experience in healthcare from other industries," Boxer says. "So one of the things that we've tried to do is find those applications and services that get the most use and try to streamline them and make them easier to use and navigate."

The provider directory was identified as a candidate for mobile access because it is one of WellPoint's most utilized online tools, with more than 18 million people accessing the directory via the Web yearly, according to Scanlon. "We think this is a good way to take that very popular part of searching our Web site and extend it," she says.

Using the tool, members can browse in-network providers by address, city, state, zip code or name, and search doctors by specialty, languages spoken and gender, Scanlon explains. In addition, mobile users can access step-by-step driving directions -- specifically formatted for the smaller screens of mobile devices -- to their physicians' offices.

1 of 2
Register for Insurance & Technology Newsletters