The changes throughout healthcare the past year have been unprecedented. Such changes are key drivers in the "retailization of healthcare”, a new phrase coined to explain the paradigm shift currently occurring in this industry. This was the main topic at the recent AHIP Conference in Seattle. Never before has each of us had the amount of flexibility and choice regarding our healthcare provider. Which one will ensure us the best insurance plan for our needs, offer the largest pool of physicians and medical facilities, and ultimately the level of wellness and overall care that we have come to expect? When “flexibility and choice” walk into the room, it’s time to think like a retailer.
The healthcare customer is no longer a captive audience. Gone are the days of a “one size fits all” corporate health plan. According to Gregg Michaelson, CEO of Linkwell Health, who was quoted as saying the following in an article published by Managed Healthcare Executive, “The environment in which health plans operate today has rapidly shifted from a business-to-business (B2B) to a business-to-customer (B2C) model.” Which means, if providers are not meeting expectations, customers can and will move on. Welcome to the á la retail quandary: How do we attract and keep customers? A great retailer is solution-oriented via innovation fueled by customer needs and/or wants. It is definitely a new way of thinking for stakeholders in healthcare.
Pieces to the Puzzle
A provider’s value proposition is front and center. In order to create an attractive value proposition, the following must be taken into account.
- The customer: An understanding of the patient, now a legitimate customer, for whom the plan(s) will be designed. What are their needs? What is most important to them when choosing a healthcare plan? What are their health concerns?
- Differentiation: Developing a point of difference(s) that creates sales momentum is instrumental.
- The channels: Where will customers be searching for health plan information and benefits? Online and mobile are vital. Showcasing easy-to-digest and understandable information is essential. Providers are also starting to enter the traditional brick and mortar space. Why not? They need to be where customers are.
- Marketing: What brand story will be most effective in generating customer awareness? How will providers reach the minds and hearts of their customers?
- The customer experience: What are the key behaviors that drive customer satisfaction and loyalty? Highlighting these behaviors and ensuring that they are engrained in the corporate culture is paramount.
- Delivering valuable information: Where will the customers drink from the fountain of wellness? Providers can push relevant and valuable information to its customers. How can a well-defined mobile strategy move this cause forward?
- Community: Creating a sense of belonging and giving back fosters word-of-mouth goodwill. Making it fun is always a plus. Check out how PEMCO creates a sense of community while making auto and home insurance entertaining.
Health insurance isn’t sexy or exciting. It’s not something people want to shop for or research. It’s more of a chore than anything else. But, when someone gets hurt or sick, it is center stage. There is a tremendous opening for providers to expand and solidify their market share by internalizing the necessary attributes of a successful retailer. Delivering value based on the needs of the customer in an innovative way, all the time, will catapult the most learned. The topography of this landscape is about to completely change. There will be some winners and some losers. We plan to stay on this topic as it progresses. Keep checking back to our blog for updates.