Roadmap for Success Helps Medical Mutual of Ohio Cruise through Mobile Application Development

About Medical Mutual of Ohio

A trusted insurer for 80 years, Medical Mutual of Ohio (MMO) is the oldest and largest health insurance company headquartered in and serving the state of Ohio. As a mutual company, MMO operates for the benefit of its members without needing to meet the demands of stockholders or Wall Street analysts. As a result, the company concentrates solely on developing products and services that help members achieve their best possible health and quality of life.


As mobile applications have become more pervasive in the health insurance industry, Medical Mutual of Ohio realized that it needed to jump into the fray to stay competitive. However, the insurer didn’t want to proceed haphazardly. Instead MMO wanted to implement applications that would truly support business goals and meet member expectations. The mobile strategy opportunity emerged since MMO’s skills complemented the AT&T offering.


Leaders at Medical Mutual of Ohio realized that the insurer could move forward more quickly and more effectively by tapping into the knowledge and resources of AT&T and its mHealth Consulting team. MMO worked with AT&T to develop a mobile application roadmap and select a development platform. The insurer has implemented two new applications to date and has a plan in place that prioritizes next steps that will drive its business forward.

Crafting a winning game plan

Medical Mutual of Ohio knew that time was of the essence. As a local company that had been serving residents of the Midwest state for more than eight decades, MMO prides itself on its connection to the community. The insurer is involved in a variety of initiatives from the Cleveland Heart Walk to Junior Achievement to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and many more. Through its close connection to the people of Ohio, MMO realized that Ohio residents were becoming more interested in using mobile devices, and wanted to add interactions with their health insurer to the growing list of tasks that could be accomplished on-the-go.

“Many of our competitors have had mobile apps for years, but we preferred to wait and see what members really wanted while mobile. Consumers don’t want online tools and apps just for the sake of having them. They want the right information in the right place at the right time. Adding mobility to our cross-channel strategy enables just that,” said Danielle Werner, Director of Enterprise Technology Development at Medical Mutual of Ohio. “However, we wanted to make sure that we were aligning our mobile capabilities to support our business strategies,” she added. “We didn’t just want to jump on the mobile bandwagon for the sake of following the crowd. Our investments in mobile technology needed to provide value to our members and our organization.”

Beyond addressing member demands, MMO leaders felt that they could develop many other apps that could have an impact in a wide variety of areas from employee satisfaction to marketing to operational efficiency. “Our guiding principal dictated that we look at this as a way to move our business forward,” Werner explained.

Putting the plan into play

Defining what needed to be done, however, was just the beginning. The big challenge for MMO was the how. The company needed to find a method to quickly identify what apps would bring the most business value – and a means to quickly get these up and running.

“We understood that we had to get into this space but we didn’t have a lot of mobile experience,” Werner said. “We needed to collaborate with an outside organization to make some good decisions around people, processes and mobile technologies. We needed to establish a sustaining model so we could become experts in-house and not have to rely on vendors every time we wanted to add a mobile application.”

MMO was already using AT&T as its wireless provider and knew the company had a deep knowledge of mobile applications as well as significant experience with healthcare organizations. MMO chose AT&T and its mHealth Consulting team to develop a roadmap that would make it possible for the insurer to quickly implement the apps that support the organization’s business goals. In addition, AT&T would work with MMO to select a development platform that would enable the insurer to nimbly deploy applications as new needs emerged in the rapidly changing healthcare industry.

To start on this journey, AT&T brought its existing research and expertise to the table and then worked with MMO staff to formulate a specific plan.

“We did a two-week internal tour at Medical Mutual with the mHealth Consulting team from AT&T where we talked to a variety of groups within our organization. The goal was to understand at an enterprise level what they were doing today mobility wise, what their plans were for the future, the role they saw for mobility and what their competitors were doing,” Werner said.

All groups were included in the discovery sessions, focusing on various aspects of MMO’s business. These included customer experience, provider relations, sales, marketing, technology, security, legal and wellness.

Setting priorities

From these sessions, AT&T consultants and MMO leaders discovered a wealth of potential mobility applications that would support business objectives across the organization. The next challenge, however, was finding a way to bring some order to all this identified potential.

“We wanted to determine what mobile applications would bring the quickest return on investment,” Werner said. “Working with AT&T, we came up with ten to 15 different criteria to rate these applications from an apples to apples perspective.”

After weighing each application against these criteria, the evaluation team also considered other factors such as relevance to members, speed to market and the level of integration complexity. From there, AT&T developed a roadmap which recommended the order in which the apps should be implemented.

AT&T also worked with MMO staff to put a process in place that would fast track the development of these apps, while still meeting all of the security requirements associated with HIPAA.

Lastly, AT&T assisted in the selection of an application development platform that enables MMO to build new apps or customize a variety of pre-built ones to meet its unique needs. The platform helps MMO to quickly develop for a variety of operating systems and easily configure existing apps for new systems.

“The development platform enables us to do prototypes so we can test the usability even before it is built,” said Werner. “There will be no need to work on wireframes and mock-ups. Developers don’t have to recreate what was already done.”

The starting lineup

With an application roadmap as well as a development vehicle in place, MMO was ready to quickly bring applications live. The company first launched MedMutual, an application that introduced members to features like accessing their ID card on their smart devices and searching for physicians, hospitals and urgent care facilities. Since then, the Medmutual app has evolved to include information regarding plan financials and claims – and more is in the works.

“MedMutual is a huge step for us and we put a lot of effort into it,” noted Mark Pencek, MMO’s Vice President of Member Experience. “The app gives our members instant information with everything right in the palm of their hand.”

Next came an app to help support MMO’s unique Mutual Appreciation program. Through this loyalty program, MMO employees are encouraged to shop or dine at customer institutions, tracking revenues generated in the process. Instead of having to carry a list, they can use their phones to pull up all of the nearby restaurants and retail establishments. In addition, they can take a picture of the receipt so they don’t have to remember to keep a paper copy to turn in later. MMO sales staff can then share the amount of business MMO employees have generated at each company.

Both of these applications have been successfully launched. Over 25,000 members have downloaded the MedMutual app with hundreds being added each week. It is providing members with the convenience of accessing plan information on the go. MMO has noted that members are retrieving information from their mobile devices about 10 percent of the time during the week. That number rises to 15 percent on weekends when they are not as likely to be sitting at a computer.

The Mutual Appreciation facilitates program engagement for employees. “We have seen an increase in participation and a bump in the number of receipts that are being recorded. It is so much easier to take a picture of your receipt when you are sitting at a restaurant, instead of remembering to turn it in when you get back to work,” Werner said.

Sprinting out of the blocks

AT&T helped MMO quickly meet the mobile application needs of its members. Indeed, with AT&T providing thought leadership, the six-week consulting engagement produced a detailed mobile application roadmap as well as a recommendation for a development platform.

“I didn’t have the time or the subject matter expertise to figure all of this out. I’m a big fan of trying to do things right the first time and AT&T really helped us do that,” Werner said. “AT&T came in and had the expertise needed. It was much easier to get the buy-in from staff and quickly move the program forward. We were able to complete the roadmap and put together an application platform recommendation in just six weeks, a process that could have taken six months without the assistance of AT&T.

“Perhaps most importantly, because we are working from such a well-thought out plan, I am confident in what we are doing from a mobility perspective. When people ask me why we are deploying one mobile app over another, I am able to talk about our thorough evaluation from AT&T, why the prioritization is in place and how this all is helping our business.”

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