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CMS eMedicare Initiative Aims to Modernize Care for Beneficiaries

CMS’s eMedicare initiative uses mobile applications and technology to improve the way beneficiaries access care and coverage information.

CMS eMedicare initiative aims to modernize care for beneficiaries

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

CMS is seeking to modernize the way Medicare beneficiaries access information about their care and coverage with eMedicare, an initiative that uses online tools and mobile applications to improve beneficiary decision-making.

“eMedicare is a multi-year initiative to modernize the way people with Medicare get information about their benefits, and create new ways to help them make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma wrote in a recent blog post.

“eMedicare empowers patients with the kinds of tools they are used to using in the private sector and other parts of their lives.”

The eMedicare suite includes a tool that helps beneficiaries better understand their coverage options and differences in costs between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

The initiative also includes a new online service that enables beneficiaries to see how different coverage options will affect out-of-pocket costs, and new price transparency tools that allow consumers to compare the national average costs of certain procedures.

Also part of the eMedicare initiative is the newly created “What’s Covered” app, a tool that lets people with Original Medicare see whether Medicare covers a certain service or medical item from their mobile device.

Once the app is installed, beneficiaries can get reliable information even when offline.

“People can now get accurate, consistent Original Medicare coverage information more easily—at the doctor’s office, in the hospital, or anywhere else,” Verma said. 

“This app is designed to meet the needs of the growing population of people with Medicare. The Medicare population is projected to increase from 57 million beneficiaries in 2016 to more than 80 million beneficiaries in 2030.”

The “What’s Covered” app, along with other eMedicare innovations, will serve to improve care for beneficiaries as they continue to engage more with technology and mobile devices.

“CMS research has demonstrated repeatedly that many people with Medicare own smartphones and tablets, download apps, and use them all the time,” Verma wrote.

“According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2016, about two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries indicate they use the Internet daily or almost daily (65 percent). There has been a 55 percent increase in Internet use among seniors since 2000, and around four-in-ten seniors (42 percent) now report owning smartphones—compared to just 18 percent in 2013.”

Verma noted that each year, there are approximately 15 million pageviews for coverage-related content on Medicare.gov, and 1-800-MEDICARE receives more than 3 million coverage-related calls annually. The “What’s Covered” app will address these questions in a way that is easy for beneficiaries.

“More than 230,000 people downloaded our new app in less than a month. Before its launch, people with Medicare tested the app and told us they found it easy to use,” she said.

“We’ve already released updates to address feedback and plan to offer more features in future versions.”

The innovations in the eMedicare initiative will build on the current customer service options offered by CMS, including Medicare.gov, the Medicare & You handbook, and the Medicare call center.

CMS intends to keep modernizing Medicare and ensuring beneficiaries have the tools necessary to make informed care decisions.

“Our goal is to continue our efforts to empower patients and unleash innovation to deliver results. We are developing eMedicare tools that will help people select their best coverage and evaluate the quality of providers,” Verma concluded.

“We will continue to anticipate the needs of Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers to help them take greater control of their healthcare. This is how we are putting patients first and strengthening Medicare.”

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