3 May 2007

Healthcare insurers conduct ethnographic research and test prototypes to provide more personalised experiences

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Insurers such as Humana and WellPoint pursue an ideal of customer intimacy with highly personalised documents and phone communications, reports Anthony O’Donnell in Insurance & Technology.

“Our work focused on a number of areas, including ethnographic research, following members home to understand how they managed their healthcare, how they made plan selections, how they budget and claim for health finance expenses,” says Chris Nicholson, Humana‘s director, integrated customer experience. The goal, he adds, was “to provide members with the relevant information that they need to make those decisions.”

During 2004, the carrier focused on determining which communication vehicles would best serve that goal, guided by four principles, according to Nicholson. The first principle, consolidation, focused on inventorying existing communications, such as periodic mass mailings, in order to concentrate them into one vehicle, he explains. The second, personalisation, sought to increase the communications’ relevance and impact by making it specific to the member. The third, distillation, aimed to synthesise the relevant information into language intelligible to the lay-reader. And the fourth, and perhaps most important, according to Nicholson, was actionability — giving members clear direction as to what they needed to do with the information.

As Humana put prototypes before focus groups toward the end of 2004 through early 2005, it set about seeking the means to deliver the final product. “We realised we didn’t have tools to provide the kind of personalised communications that our members were asking for,” Nicholson recalls. The carrier evaluated about a dozen vendor solutions, as well as two tools already in-house, he relates. “We were trying to get a good assessment in terms of cost, flexibility, scalability and integration with our print systems and [data] outputs,” Nicholson says. “We were looking for a broad solution that not only fit in the print space but also the Web.”

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