The myHealthEZ Mobile App
What are my benefits? Is this provider in network? What is the status of my bill? These are some of the common questions HealthEZ representatives receive daily. As a health benefits administrator built on a core of high-tech, high-touch service, HealthEZ realized that developing a mobile application would greatly enhance the client experience and address more of these common questions automatically. HealthEZ needed to transform existing digital properties into a mobile app, meet clients where they were, provide quick access to benefits information, and reduce reliance on traditional support channels.
Prior to 2021, clients relied solely on the myHealthEZ website and phone calls to answer their questions, and although these support channels worked exceptionally well, HealthEZ realized they could cut costs and better assist clients by reducing inbound calls and support tickets. This was the primary business driver behind the initiative, especially as consumer demands in the industry had shifted to a more mobile-centric environment. Without an app, client data just wasn’t as accessible as it needed to be. When asked about the driving force behind the app, Mathew Parker, Director of America’s PPO for HealthEZ, explained “We were trying to create an additional, easy to access way for our members to get the information they needed without having to go to a website or call. An app is just a little cleaner and easier for members to use.”
Another reason for developing a mobile app was presence itself. Being in the App Store plays a major role in differentiating your company and increasing market visibility. For HealthEZ, this was critical as many other third-party benefits administrators either didn’t have a mobile application or had lower application ratings. And so, HealthEZ tapped their long-time IT partner to kick off the custom app development.
Developing a mobile application from start to finish and seeing it launch on the App Store is no small achievement — especially an enterprise-class mobile application. It requires an acute understanding of software programming and broad skillset to draw upon. “We’ve worked with Atomic Data for a few years now on several large projects, overhauling both internal and external-facing systems, portals, and sites, and they’ve done great work,” said Mathew. “For this reason, it was natural to also work with Atomic Data on our mobile application.”
HealthEZ first chose to partner with Atomic Data back in 2016 when they needed someone to rewrite their Visual Basic 6-based software application. Atomic Data fit the bill, went to work, and exceeded expectations in not only rewriting their software, but providing data center colocation, process development, and Security & Compliance consulting. So, when the time came to develop a mobile application, HealthEZ knew where to turn.
“In the initial planning phase, we are trying to discover and capture what our clients’ requirements are. We’re piecing together what real potential technology solutions would look like,” said Nathan Noll, software solutions architecture manager for Atomic Data. “It’s part of our responsibility to come up with the best technologies for our clients.”
There were four key features that needed to become more accessible to clients. First, clients would need to quickly show their insurance card from their phone. This would make their lives easier when visiting providers if they ever misplaced their card or forgot it at home. Requesting a new copy of their ID, downloading it, and sending it to a provider would also be essential. The second feature would be to assist clients with bill payments. Clients often inquire about the status of their claims, whether payments have processed, or about their deductible and out-of-pocket expenses. Traditionally, emails were used to notify clients of bills, but in-app notifications would streamline this process and prevent any missed emails. Deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums could also be readily displayed on the app’s home page for easy reference. Third would be to help members locate in-network providers at a moment’s notice. HealthEZ works with over a dozen regional, local, and national provider networks, and clients need healthcare at all hours of the day. Designing this feature with user experience in mind would be critical to the app’s success. And lastly, clients need to be able to locate and review their plan benefits to understand coverage and plan accordingly. All this from the palm of the client’s hand.
The Atomic Data software team ensured that an effective technology solution was thoroughly researched, proposed, and implemented for this project, ultimately choosing to use the open-source framework Xamarin.Forms. Xamarin.Forms is built in the Microsoft .NET stack and allows developers to program the app in C#. Developers at HealthEZ have a familiarity with C# and do all their current software work in .NET, making this a smart choice not only for the duration of the project, but also for long-term management and upkeep.
This technology solution also opened the door for cross-team collaboration. Developers at HealthEZ could be involved to a greater extent, provide value in their areas of expertise, and get the quickest return on their work. “We don’t have the manpower to develop an entire app internally,” explained Mathew. “We kept a few pieces of it for our developers to work on and Atomic Data did the rest. We didn’t just send off a schematic and get an app a few months later; we were involved throughout the entire process.”
“We kept a few pieces of it for our developers to work on and Atomic Data did the rest. We didn’t just send off a schematic and get an app a few months later; we were involved throughout the entire process.”– Mathew Parker, Director of America’s PPO for HealthEZ
Development and Launch
Atomic Data built the myHealthEZ application around UI layouts and wireframes created by Compound, HealthEZ’s contracted design firm. These mockups and wireframes were useful in showing what the app would look like and how it would navigate, an essential first step for any complex development project. Development using design mockups is an intricate and involved process, usually requiring transactional communication, revisions, and teamwork. Atomic Data worked with Compound to revise components of the designs and workflows throughout the course of this agile development.
Using Xamarin.Forms, Atomic Data engineers were able to leverage existing pages, layouts, and libraries for building the foundation of the myHealthEZ application. From there, Atomic Data engineers custom coded and programmed key elements to create a functional, professionally designed, and intuitive application. “It’s hard to know what potential issues may arise until it’s being built and tested,” said Matt Johnson, a software engineer for Atomic Data. “For that reason, Atomic Data engineers routinely test as they develop features for any app. The myHealthEZ app was no exception.” By the time the app was finished, final testing wasn’t as labor intensive and resulted in only minor bug fixes and enhancements.
In addition to developing, testing, and fine-tuning the app, Atomic Data also managed the submission and approval process for getting the app published on the iOS and Android app stores, making for a very smooth launch once the time came.
The Results/Looking Ahead
As app store ratings attest to, HealthEZ clients are pleased with their experience, commending the app’s ease of use. Members are pleased that they can use the quick action buttons on the home screen and get to what they need within seconds. They can now access their personal benefit data more efficiently, translating into a better healthcare experience and propelling HealthEZ’s digital transformation forward.
Atomic Data continues to offer its white glove services in advising and making changes to the app as requested. And since the app was created using the same programming language and environment HealthEZ developers are familiar with, HealthEZ is equipped with many of the resources necessary to manage the application in house.
Moreover, the app will stay current due to its underlying code. For the implementation, engineers used a framework that enables app modularity. When needed, engineers can add new modules and display new features, minimizing complexity and the need to start from scratch. The services themselves are separated and versioned, so if drastic updates were made to support new functionality, existing endpoints wouldn’t be touched, and existing installs of the app wouldn’t break. Features soon to be added include more detailed plan benefits, the ability to store insurance cards in the Google Store or Apple Wallet, a cost estimator tool, Apple Pay, telehealth integration, and more.
The myHealthEZ application will go a long way in helping customers get better healthcare. “Working with Atomic Data is great,” said Mathew. “[Atomic Data has] a lot of experience. Not solely with apps, but with every piece of the business technology-wise. [They] made making an app easy which in turn helps us make healthcare easy for our members.”