All innovators face hurdles and these companies will need to determine the right partnership structures, including advocating for payment alignment, defining ownership and sharing of data, and how to approach implementation.
Earning consumer trust
Payers and employers will need to prove the benefit to their members and employees and demonstrate true support and empathy to mitigate privacy concerns.
Just as food retailers work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food and nutritional service food assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to determine payment arrangements, pricing terms for food items will need to be determined with payers and self-insurers. Additionally, health technology companies should consider pricing models where a portion of their fees are based on meeting goals for member engagement and satisfaction, in line with value-based care structures.
Use of data
Payers and self-insured employers will need to develop mechanisms to quantify the return on investment (ROI) of reimbursing food and providing rewards. While this ROI calculation has been challenging in the past, additional data gleaned from this new ecosystem could facilitate these calculations. Food retailers will need to work with partners to develop a system to track consumer purchases and related information, such as nutrition facts, then transfer this data to the health technology application. Additionally, food retailers will need to adapt their systems to use increased access to health data to drive operational improvements, such as marketing, space planning, demand forecasting and supply chain management.
Technology development and usage
While many of the needed capabilities exist today, health technology companies tend to focus on one area. Technology deals may be needed to create a comprehensive experience that can allow users to access these features in one place, and new technology would also be needed to share data between health technology and food retail companies.
Building this ecosystem will require companies to work with partners they may have never considered and to reimagine how they work with existing partners. This important undertaking is complex and will likely take time to design and implement. They will need to first identify and evaluate potential partners that can offer complementary services and then determine partnership structures that most effectively benefit both partners and consumers, all with the goal of promoting healthier eating. Working together, health care, retail and technology companies can build a connected, consumer-centric food ecosystem with access, education, support and incentives. This ecosystem can make a big impact on helping people make healthier food choices and improve the health outcomes driven by those choices.