Customers are now more educated, more particular and less loyal than ever before when it comes to their health insurance choices, leaving payers little choice but to adapt their customer-engagement strategies to this new reality, according to a new report from IDC Health Insights.
To do so, insurers must create an "almost retail experience" by unifying the patient and member roles, the report states. But this approach is not without challenges, as consumers have historically distrusted health insurers.
"This semi-retail interaction approach is now possible technically, but culturally difficult," report author Jeff Rivkin said in an announcement. "Engaging customers to develop a trust with their payer equivalent to the trust found with their medical providers is a lofty goal, but this is the partner-in-care customer experience desired by payers."
To achieve this goal, the report lays out a host of strategies that suggest payers:
- Simplify the enrollment process to establish a lasting customer relationship. Recognizing that a customer's initial experience is key, "breakthrough" payers will retool their processes to create a standardized onboarding paradigm across all of their business lines, the report says. That way, the insurer creates a person-specific customer experience, not just a yearly membership renewal.
- Rethink the concept of "opt-in" to respect customers' security and privacy. The industry's trend toward hyper-personalization has a downside--the "shadow of the creep factor," according to the report. So insurers must be careful about how much and when they use clinical data to engage with customers, as well as be more transparent about what data they collect from members and how they will use this data.
- Create a continuous presence with customers to promote loyalty. Insurers must expand the amount of time they interact with customers beyond events such as settling a claim or enrolling in a plan, the report says. They can accomplish this by sponsoring wellness programs, encouraging healthy behaviors through discounts and rewards, reimbursing for virtual care, and promoting the use of connected devices.
In an IDC Health Insights report published late last month, Rivkin offered other business strategies for insurers looking to adapt to a consumer-centric landscape, such as segmenting clinical data to provide actionable information for departments in charge of executing consumer engagement.
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