The foundation of an excellent healthcare experience is the ability to repeatedly connect with consumers and their families. This connection needs to be transparent, consent-based, and ongoing to uncover insights that allow teams to validate ideas, develop programs, and continually iterate and improve.
As companies react to the rapid retailization of health care and tech giants like Amazon and Apple dip their toes into the industry, Regence is in a unique position to lead the transition. Known for its 100+ year history in the health insurance industry and spurred by a mission to transform the healthcare experience, Regence has put the people, processes, and technology in place that ensure customers are at the heart of every decision.
To tell us more about Regence’s journey, we connected with Laura Bethke, Manager of Digital and Marketing Insights, and Katie Van Loo, Ph.D., Senior Consumer Insights Researcher.
Laura, how important are insights to a mission-driven organization like Regence?
Laura: We want to create a system that is centered on real people and their healthcare journey. Leveraging insights helps us better meet the needs of the consumers we serve. These consumers could be end users or our employers or our producers who distribute our products to employers and members.
Too often, health care is not a positive experience. We want to make it as positive as possible. Ultimately that is our goal. We want to be easy to do business with, help people understand what we're selling, and how we can help them.
We have a robust, award-winning customer service department, person-focused products that help people get the care they need—it's a wellness journey not a sick journey—and we're committed to our cause.
You set the mission, determine the objectives. Where does culture fit in? That must be one of the more challenging aspects of creating a truly customer-centric organization.
Laura: It's a team sport. It’s about working together toward the culmination of the experience. We are deeply engaged with our stakeholders and we're all working to improve the consumer experience. You can't depend on one person to push the message. It needs to be a cultural imperative to strive to improve the consumer experience and put the consumer at the center of the decisions we make.
We also have a VP of Consumer Obsession. The VP is a stand-alone entity in the business who is responsible for driving culture and consumer evangelism, lead the charge, and be the connective tissue that drives changes across the business, across Regence.
She’s recruited consumer champions throughout the organization. These people come together to talk about how to identify customer pain points and solve problems cross-functionally. One division can see a problem and fix it, but you have to fix it across the board. It’s an ecosystem that requires a holistic view of the experience.
How do you measure the success of your customer experience initiatives?
Laura: Our CX measure is a strong priority for Regence. I’ve been in charge of measuring those metrics for the past 14 years, and we've seen steady incremental improvement. Improvement that is directly attributable to delivering consistent information that helps manage change, meet consumer expectations, and build a better journey and experience.
You touched on something important there; the connection between ongoing engagement and consistent incremental improvement.
Ongoing access is critical. As part of our overall customer insights program we rely on three insights communities to maintain that cadence: Regence Insiders for B2C, a second B2B community made up our producers and employers, and a third innovation community. These communities provide fast, agile access to people who have consented to provide continual feedback. The members are well profiled and highly engaged.
With our communities, we are able to provide invaluable insight into the “how” and “why” of our KPIs and where we should focus our resources.
Where do Regence Insiders fit in your insights ecosystem?
Katie: It's easy with research to check the boxes that we got consumer feedback. But there's a big difference between that and truly engaging and building a relationship with your consumers. This is where the Regence Insiders come in.
Regence Insiders allows us to humanize our data through member stories that help remind us of the impact our work at Regence can have on the consumer and to motivate change in the organization.
Laura: We field a quarterly Member Experience survey to 33,000 members per quarter, or 130,000+ per year, to measure multiple experience metrics including satisfaction, advocacy, loyalty, and experience.
We also capture aspects of the member experience, such as trust and benefit understanding, that drive scores on these outcome metrics. As important as the Member Experience survey is, it doesn’t tell us what to do next. In many cases we're left with questions like: How do we increase member trust? Why is the health plan guidance we provide falling short of members’ needs to understand their health insurance?
The communities provide the agile consumer insights required to answer these kinds of questions.
What’s the benefit of having the same members available for ongoing feedback?
Katie: With Regence Insiders we can get feedback from members who are intrinsically motivated to reshape the healthcare experience in the United States. This commitment manifests in the richness and depth of their feedback. We can go to our members directly and frequently via surveys and discussion boards to learn what members think we should do to improve their experience.
The community nature of the Insiders also enables us to develop a relationship with our members, building trust, and encouraging engagement. Because of the deep profiles we have on each community member, we are also able to be sensitive to our members’ personal comfort levels and preferences for sharing their experiences. This contributes to a respectful feedback environment where members can disclose only what they are comfortable providing and feel safe doing so.
These attributes make our Insiders perfect for recruiting for special opportunities. Recently, a small group of Oregon and Washington millennials participated in a member panel helping Regence leadership better understand their point of view.
Beyond opportunities to engage in special projects and events, how do you keep members engaged and coming back for more?
Katie: I started managing the Insiders in 2018, and I learned quickly that people really do want to feel like insiders. They want to learn something from us as well, not just provide feedback. One example of how we deliver against that is with our newsletters. People want to know the answers to other questions that come up from activities so we share them widely.
We’re also excited about launching our Member Hub soon as a key engagement tool. We partnered with our content team and aligned our messaging to be consistent and thoughtful about what we share there. Our content team was pumped—they’re excited about an opportunity to test and learn how their content engages our customers so they can continue to improve.
Speaking of improvements, can you share an example of experience improvements you’ve made based on insight?
Katie: We realized from feedback in the community that consumers have a lot of uncertainty about health savings accounts and confusion about how deductibles work. We engaged with consumers to learn more about how they plan for care and utilize their health savings accounts.
We helped people identify ways to save money and create a cushion for the future. An improvement that has made it easier for our customers to visit the doctor without worrying about how to pay. As a result, they get the care they need instead of avoiding it out of uncertainty or confusion. That is really a textbook example of using the community to bring our mission and vision to life.