From September 13-14, 2023, Nashville, Tennessee and American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) hosted the 2023 Consumer Experience & Digital Health Forum. This event brought together numerous forward-thinking healthcare leaders for dynamic sessions, immersive workshops, and stimulating discussions led by a panel of distinguished healthcare experts. The MERGE team was right in the midst of it all, capturing many pivotal moments first-hand. Below are some of the most prominent takeaways that resonated with us:
Taking Holistic and Behavioral Health a Step Further
A popular topic of conversation at AHIP was the state of holistic and behavioral health and what can be done to improve the quality of care toward that end. From the perspective of American Neuroscientist and Psychiatrist Thomas Insel, mental health is primarily addressed through coaching, engagement, and support funded through charity. Insel mentioned how we don’t employ this type of treatment approach for dialysis, physical therapy, or any other type of medicine. He went on to assert that mental health needs to be talked about the way cancer and renal failure are talked about - saying mental illness is a serious medical problem that deserves the same rigor, research, and reimbursement.
The ability to measure mental health solutions was another hotly discussed topic at AHIP. According to Suzanne Kunis, VP of Behavioral Health Solutions at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, there is currently no perfect, or uniform way to measure mental health solutions. She does, however, believe in outcomes. More specifically, tracking the quality of outcomes, speed of implementation, and quality of overall care. To be on the cutting edge of customer-focused healthcare, organizations need to define 'quality outcomes', while also differentiating solutions, and tracking speed of implementation. These changes can even aid in appeal-positioning when it comes to being considered for healthcare partnerships.
Perhaps one of the only net positives we can attribute to COVID-19 is the accessibility of telehealth and virtual care. Kunis reports that before 2020, virtual care hovered around 1% of behavioral healthcare claims, and has since risen to 60% going into 2024 (no-shows have also dropped below 10%). Behavior changes when and where trust happens, and if you’re asking Henry Ritter, Founder and CEO of Alma, we can facilitate growth in trust by empowering providers with these new and innovative tools.
Creating Human-Centric Healthcare Experiences
Consumer experience is only as good as employee experience. In the words of Vishal Bhalla with Advocate Health, “We all have expectations about interactions. At every interaction, we measure against those expectations. What’s left over is the emotion.” Designing for emotion is an essential part of a good customer experience. Within an organization, it’s essential to compellingly build empathy for patients and members.
So, how do you measure customer emotion? Or more specifically, positive customer experience? It comes down to ease + helpfulness + enjoyability, according to Ingrid Lindberg, Founder of Chief Customer. She has expressed the opinion that leadership exists too far from the consumer, and that healthcare organizations should take executive teams and bring them into the communities they are serving to better address their needs.
AHIP on Medicare Enrollment
The earlier you engage with your customers, the better it is for them. This can be achieved by engaging with them early, during, and immediately after enrollment to ensure they’re educated throughout each step of the process about their benefits, tools, programs, and more. Jennifer Brooks-Mason, Vice President of Digital Strategy at SCAN Health Plan went on record to suggest organizations need to consider revamping enrollment and onboarding systems. One way to improve the medicare enrollment process is to build internal tools that deliver feedback fast. The main takeaway: engage medicare enrollees at every step to help them get the most out of their benefits. How is that accomplished? Engage with customers as soon as possible. Assemble focus groups dedicated to obtaining feedback and create processes that allow for seamless communication throughout the healthcare enrollment process.
The recent 2023 Consumer Experience & Digital Health Forum underscored a significant opportunity to enhance the healthcare customer experience. And one of the more heartening takeaways at the conclusion of the event was that the knowledge and means exist to make this improvement a reality. It starts with embedding empathy into our culture, giving mental health equal importance, and maintaining meaningful patient communication. Leading with empathy and streamlining Medicare engagement are key steps in this transformation that aims to deliver the best possible healthcare experience all for all.