Customer Experience Execs In HealthCare – It Is Time To Do Something Bold

A few days ago, I was at AHIP Institute in Las Vegas. For those of you who aren’t familiar with AHIP, it is one of the largest gatherings of health insurers. AHIP is a place that I hold dear in my heart. It was the first platform in healthcare that I was given to talk about Customer Experience. As a matter of fact, I’ve been speaking at every AHIP since 2007 on this topic.  In 2015, I did a look back on the many changes I’ve seen in the dialogue.

What I saw last week was that we’ve made more incremental change as an industry. There were even more data vendors. Even more start ups that were promising to disrupt the industry.

What I was hoping to see what one of the monoliths in the ecosystem show off something bold. I paid most of my attention to the Customer Experience track (imagine that), and I was actually pretty disappointed.


I listened to one speaker talk about all the amazing things they are doing at this large health plan that were almost 100% copies of things we did at Cigna in the mid 00s. I listened as audience members oohed and aaahed about plain language changes they were making – touting them as the “next new bold idea!” We released the “Let’s Be Clear Program in 2007. (Feel free to steal shamelessly -we did a ton of research and then published the results of what words people understood!)

I listened to people promise that you could journey map your way to loyalty… I promise you, you can’t.

I’m delighted that 10 years after introducing the concept of customer experience to health care that people are finally starting to make small changes. But referring to using understandable language as a “bold” choice? Come on now. It was bold a decade ago. Now, it is incremental.

Customer Experience, when done right is about whole scale culture change. It is about changing how you make decisions – each and every one of them. It is about bringing a new competency to the organization – one that didn’t exist before. It is about using credible voice of customer data instead of opinions to drive your designs and discussions.

The industry is so ripe for someone to do something bold.

Who is going to launch the first:

1.       Vanishing deductible?

2.       Price guarantee on your “transparency tool” quote?

3.       Removal of all prior auths?

4.       Warby Parker model for prescription medicines?

5.       Plan that is actually understandable and actually is known for being there for me when the going gets tough?

We’re past the point of incremental change my friends. If you want to truly thrive in this new economy, you’re going to have to understand that a helpful and easy customer experience is table stakes. You simply must deliver on that. And until you do, you haven’t earned the right to do something bold.