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As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, nearly every industry is being affected. The healthcare industry is certainly no exception. As the customer engagement model across this entire industry shifts, consumers are beginning to redefine the healthcare process. Technology and various digital innovations are now creating a customer experience that gives an unprecedented amount of control over the way people find, acquire, access, and value healthcare benefits and services.
This shift is seeing the traditional healthcare customer experience model change into what Dr. Mark Boxer, EVP and Global CIO of Cigna Healthcare, calls the “new healthcare consumer.” And during his PegaWORLD 2015 session titled, “Engaging the New Healthcare Consumer in a Digital World,” Boxer offered his thoughts on how the industry can meet this new generation of customer engagement.
While the objective remains the same, the structure of the healthcare industry has changed dramatically over the last decade. The industry still strives to improve affordability, increase customer satisfaction, and maximize better health outcomes, but technology and innovations have transformed the way those objectives are met.
“Think about it,” said Boxer. “Shopping for benefits online via a simple app. Virtual care anytime anywhere, even through robotics. Conducting advanced clinical trials using wearable devices. And even using games for chronic care management. This is the new reality of health. This is the new reality of wellness. It is a reality that redefines the customer experience.”
Boxer stresses that these factors are creating a new paradigm that must also spark a host of new strategies. He sees this reality as a new technology defining healthcare ecosystem. Cigna is moving to engage this new customer, but this engagement is a delicate balance as the industry is faced with as many challenges as it is opportunities.
Today, doctors understand more about the underlining causes of disease than ever before. And this is paving the way for modern medical marvels such as targeted therapies, personalized medicine, Nano technologies, and advances in all types of science. Boxer notes that only about half of all the care administered in the United States is actually based on hard science. In reality, care is based more on the personal preferences and inclinations of doctors, which can be influenced by how and where they were trained, and even what region they treat patients in.
Boxer believes that incorporating the next generation of technological capabilities to bridge the disparity gap between these factors is, at least, a step in the right direction.
“Technology alone is not the answer, but integration does provide interconnectivity, integration, and intelligence to make real and meaningful improvements to the system,” said Boxer.
Cigna’s goal is to use technology that connects consumers with care that is guided by real-time insights to achieve what it calls the “triple aim.” This, of course, covers three aspects that “aim” to improve quality, manage affordability, and optimize the patient experience to ultimately deliver better health outcomes.
“While this technical shift is happening, the healthcare system itself is undergoing an amazing transformation,” said Boxer. “It is shifting to a more retail centric model that enables the consumer to really own their healthcare decisions.”
All of these factors are converging. And Boxer wants to warn organizations that they absolutely cannot overlook these forces and still remain competitive in the industry.
Today it is about engaging the empowered and digital savvy consumer.
“For Cigna, we must consider going digital in everything we do,” Boxer continued. “It is about creating solutions that know our customers, engage our customers, and that drive better healthcare outcomes no matter where that customer resides.”
It is about managing complex change in a highly digital world, and it is a trial that every brand, inside and outside the healthcare industry, is facing.
“The constraints are daunting,” Boxer said. “We face the rapid pace of retail change, customers that want and need everything mobile, shorter product cycle times, and a fragmented ecosystem.”
And Brands that cannot deliver on these fronts risk quickly becoming irrelevant.
“The new consumer wants the experience to be personalized, they want the experience to be on demand, they want it when it is convenient for them, and sometimes they even want that experience to be virtual,” said Boxer. “Our Challenge, our opportunity, is to engage customers on their own terms. And we believe that this happens at the intersection point of mobile, gamification, social, and big data.”
Regardless of whether a company finds itself inside the healthcare arena or not, this is valuable information for everyone to take to heart going forward.
About the Author: Mark Johnson
Mark is CEO & CMO of Loyalty360. He has significant experience in selling, designing and administering prepaid, loyalty/CRM programs, as well as data-driven marketing communication programs.
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