Aetna's Gary Loveman: Healthcare can learn from hospitality industry

LAS VEGAS -- Individuals working in the healthcare industry could learn a lot from the hospitality/casino industry, according to Gary Loveman, executive vice president of Aetna and president of consumer health and services.

Speaking Monday at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives' CIO Forum in Las Vegas, Loveman, who previously served as chairman, CEO and president of Caesar's Entertainment Corporation, discussed how the healthcare industry can take advantage of current data analytics tools in much the same way as the gaming industry. While at Caesar's, Loveman said, his job was to study the habits of his customers, learn their motivations and act on them in calculated steps. At Aetna, he leads efforts to study patient habits to learn what motivates them to stay healthy.

"My job [at Caesar's] was to convince customers who had access to all of these [options] to choose that ones that were available to us," Loveman said. "It was to focus on the software, not the hardware. I want to emphasize that point because I think that is the opportunity available to us today. We can enhance the health and wellness of Americans and people around the world without further advancement of medical science. We can advance their health through the software and how we operate these businesses."

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Loveman stressed the importance of managing the process of the life of customers to help keep them, saying that people are not persuadable at every moment. Those in the healthcare industry must learn to capitalize on such key moments rather than simply "litigating" in high-stress situations.

"I have two daughters, 25 and 26; if I ask them about health, the first words out of their mouth are not 'copay' and 'deductible,'" Loveman said. "They talk about fitness, they talk about nutrition and they talk about beauty and apparel. ... They don't want to talk about the product I'm set up to sell. That doesn't make me a very good consumer marketer. I need to think about what they want; how can I package things they care about with the things we the payer have historically cared about."

Loveman said that continuing to manage that process longitudinally through the use of analytics doesn't happen nearly enough.

"People just can't stand how clumsy we are at this," Loveman said. "Why can Uber do this, but we can't do this?"

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