Can Health Plans Provide Better Member Experiences? Yes!
April 18, 2008 2 Comments
I was a speaker at Microsoft’s Health Plan Executive Forum in Jacksonville, Florida last week. As you might expect, I talked about customer experience.
Dennis Schmuland, MD, Microsoft’s Health Plan Industry Director kicked off the morning with a video that showed how current and planned Microsoft technologies would revolutionize the healthcare experience — for both patients and providers. It was pretty cool; like something from a Sci-Fi movie. You can see the video posted on Microsoft’s HealthBlog.
Next up was Anthony Nowlan, Chief Medical Officer, CentriHealth, Inc., and former Director of the NHS Information Authority. He gave a great speech called “Organizing Health Care in the Information Age.” He started by walking through the history of healthcare starting in the 1800s. It turns out that one of the key problems that we have today is that our current institutions (hospitals, labs, etc) were created in a period where the primary issue was acute care. As Dr Nolan said, “patients came in, got treated, and then they either got better or died.” But in today’s environment, the majority of costs come from chronic care. And you can’t solve the current problem with the old institutions; consumers need to be more involved. So his speech focused on how to use electronic health records to reorganize the healthcare system.
My speech was titled “Health Plan Member Experience: From Enraged To Engaged.” I borrowed some material from Liz Boehm (one of Forrester’s healthcare analysts) to show that member experience was becoming more important for health plans. One of the reasons is that cost containment for chronic care requires some behaviorial changes. But consumers don’t trust health plans for basic interactions, never mind listen to their wellness and disease management recommendations.
I then showed some of my research on customer experience, loyalty, and satisfaction. Here’s a small snapshot of that information:
- Health plans came in last place out of 9 industries in our Customer Experience Rankings; and were also lowest in each of the individual areas: useful, usable, and enjoyable.
- The highest rated plan in the rankings, Kaiser, only ended up 75th out of the 112 firms we examined.
- 40 year-olds give health plans the lowest customer experience ratings.
- Seniors give health plans the highest customer experience ratings.
- Health plans have the lowest rating for satisfaction with online interactions and virtually tied for last place in satisfaction with phone interactions.
Of course, I couldn’t leave the attendees without a path to follow. So I explained how they could use Experience-Based Differentiation as their blueprint for improving customer experience.
After the presentation, one of the participants asked a good question: “Can we (health plans) ever have satisfied members, since we need to reject many of their claims?” My answer was “You can absolutely raise satisfaction levels. While you may never be as enjoyable as Borders, there’s no reason for interactions with health plans to be any less useful or usable than with any other industry.”
The bottom line: Health plan member experience is a chronic problem, but it’s curable.
(P.S. I don’t generally write about my work with specific clients, but Microsoft approved this blog post)