New to Clover Health's C-suite: A chief behavioral officer

Startup insurer Clover Health has added an unusual title to its cadre of executives: a chief behavioral officer. (Getty/Robert Daly)

You’ve heard of a chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief executive officer. But what about chief behavioral officer?

To startup Medicare Advantage insurer Clover Health, employing a CBO is part of what makes it stand out among its managed-care peers, according to Matt Wallaert, who recently joined the company to fill the newly created position.

In a post on Medium, Wallaert says one of Clover’s principle beliefs is that people can change and fundamentally want to be healthy—but he acknowledges this is easier said than done. That’s where Wallaert hopes to employ his training as a behavioral scientist.

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In his new role as CBO, Wallaert says he will have three primary responsibilities:

  • Help members lead healthier, happier lives. For example, he might help make patients’ waiting-room experience more entertaining and productive, or develop systems to make it easier for a diabetic member to choose the right foods.
  • Help Clover’s team work better internally. This might involve changing how employees communicate with each other, or how the company’s working spaces are set up.
  • Teach the basics of behavioral science. Wallaert says he wants to educate the Clover team “and beyond” about the field so they can incorporate it into their lives. Teaching members how to change their behaviors, he noted, both helps them take control of their health and preserves their autonomy.

Some companies, Wallaert noted, use the power of behavioral science to boost their profits by manipulating people to do things that aren’t in their best interest. But Wallaert said his goal is to use behavioral science in a way that puts Clover’s members first, so he pledged to provide transparent updates on what the company is trying and how those initiatives are working.

So far, venture capitalists have bet big on Clover’s data-driven approach to healthcare. In May, the company announced that it was valued at $1.2 billion following an infusion of funding from Greenoaks Capital and other investors—including GV, the venture arm of Google parent company Alphabet. Still, the company hasn’t yet reached profitability, as it reportedly lost $34.6 million in 2016.