Last week I had the opportunity to attend the AHIP Institute conference in the wonderful city of Nashville, Tennessee. This was my first time attending this conference, and I was especially interested to learn if the current trending topics in the health insurance industry aligned with the mission of Zipari: To disrupt healthcare by introducing consumer-centric solutions for health plans and brokers.

Conferences can be overwhelming with all of the sessions, vendors and networking events, but AHIP did a great job at providing educational tracks that focused on particular topics. My team decided it would be best to divide and conquer, so I attended sessions related to Customer Experience. Here are a few key things that I learned:

Health Plans are on a mission to disrupt the current system with innovative technology

Elizabeth Holmes, Founder and CEO of Theranos, stated that “Healthcare is the only industry where increased pricing does not correlate with improved technology”. Currently, the health insurance system is based on models that are not relevant anymore. Most Health Plans are using outdated and archaic legacy technology and operating in silos resulting in inefficient operations. In the opening keynote, the CEO of Providence Health Plan, Dr. Rodney Hochman, said that health plans need to “feel comfortable disrupting your own business”. Providence Health Plan addressed this issue by hiring several employees from Amazon to work in their Innovation and technology departments. This idea of Health Plans becoming more “Amazon-like” seemed to be a consistent theme throughout the conference.

Customer Experience is a priority in the health insurance industry

Almost every session I attended began with the following statement: According to Mckinsey, It takes 3 years to get a consumer experience plan executed. Consumer experience is a MAJOR transformation of the system. The ACA has changed the health insurance landscape and individuals are making purchasing decisions. Health plans need to adapt NOW if they want to compete in the new consumer focused health insurance market. “But how do we get the consumer to want a relationship with their health insurance carrier?” Steve Snell, VP of Marketing at Gateway Health asked. “Who wants to have a relationship with their cable provider? No one. You just want an EASY experience.” Consumers want confidence, clarity and ease. Amy Cueva, Founder and CEO of Mad*Pow (a design agency that uses technology to improve customer experience), suggests that Health Plans design customer experience plans for customer transitions: new diagnosis, new drug prescriptions and life events. Understanding the stressful moments of the consumer is important and can assist plans in getting information out to consumers in a proactive way.

Low Health Literacy among consumers is costing the healthcare system a lot of money.

I was shocked to hear how much healthcare money is wasted due to low health literacy rates among consumers; according to this study, about $395 billion annually. According to Patrick Leonard, CTO of Innovation & Digital Products at Aetna, this is largely due to consumers selecting inappropriate health plans and not taking preventative measures. Consumers do not understand the information that they need to make informed healthcare decisions and low health literacy makes it extremely difficult for people to get the assistance that they need. Even people with strong literacy skills can face health literacy challenges. How many people actually know what co-insurance is? Health Plans must make health literacy (which is associated with customer experience) a priority. People do not want to feel like they do not have the ability to make a good decision. The more a health plan can empower their members, the more loyalty those members will have loyalty to their brand.

I was pleased to learn that the health insurance industry is realizing the importance of understanding the customer in order to improve the customer’s overall experience. What are your thoughts on disruptive technology in healthcare, and applying retail customer experience technology to traditional healthcare websites and mobile experiences?