Exploring Social Media for Health and Wellness: A Health Plan Case Study

Exploring Social Media for Health and Wellness: A Health Plan Case Study

Sinjini Mitra (California State University, Fullerton, USA) and Rema Padman (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/jcit.2012040104


The use of social media for health and wellness promotion is a relatively new concept. Nonetheless, several early adopting health plans and provider organizations have begun to design and pilot social and mobile media platforms to empower members to enhance self management of health and wellness goals. In this case study of a large health plan in Pennsylvania, the authors describe the design and execution of a member survey to identify some factors that are significantly associated with interest in adopting such technology platforms for obtaining health-related information and services. Analysis of relevant data from more than 4,000 responses indicates significant differences among important segments of the member population defined with respect to demographic factors, level of computer and social media usage, and frequency of engagement in specific online activities. They anticipate that these insights can assist health plans to develop and deploy targeted services and tools for health and wellness management.
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Organizational Background

This case study is associated with a large health plan in western Pennsylvania. For confidentiality reasons, we cannot disclose the name of the health plan and will refer to it just as “health plan” in the rest of paper. Due to same reasons, we cannot include any details pertaining to the management, economic climate and financial structure of the organization.

The health plan offers five basic medical plan designs, which are distinguished mainly by varying levels of provider-coordinated vs. self-directed care and the use of network vs. out-of-network providers. Besides consumer-specific plans, the health plan also offers a full range of commercial and government health management products and services, including commercial group health insurance, Medicare Assistance, Special Needs (SNP), Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) and customized benefit options for smaller employer groups. It also offers disease and behavioral health management programs, including programs to help employers promote health, prevention, and wellness in the workplace.

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