Bringing Empathy into the Design Process: Design Thinking at AHIP

Michelle Ammirati by on Jun 21, 2018

What are you presently doing or have you completed within your organization to focus on your consumer/user engagement strategy? This is the question that Lesa Bailey, Health Plan Solutions Global Practice Lead, Consumer Division at NTT DATA Services, posed to a panel at the AHIP’s Institute & Expo on June 20.

Mentioning design thinking briefly and emphasizing the idea that every interaction with a call center is a flaw with the company systems, she moderated a panel with Christina Pitney, Strategy/Strategic Partnerships, Chief of Staff to President & CEO at BCBS of Rhode Island; Katie Catlender, Head of Customer Experience, Strategy & Operations for BCBS of Massachusetts; and Kathleen Ellmore, Managing Director at Engagys. Each leader offered significant insight into their organizational approach to focusing on engagement strategy.

BCBS of Rhode Island is moving toward a simple approach while being impactful when right in front of the customer. Pitney detailed the work the organization is doing with retail and mentioned that “70% of our membership, we are within five miles of them. Our members come to us with questions.” Pitney emphasized that their call centers have seen success in using information from these retail experiences interactions. Next, BCBS of Rhode Island plans to figure out how to create a digital experience that can leverage that data set, aiming to develop a fully integrated self-service platform using targeted messaging.

Ellmore summarized the type of work Engagys performs through partnerships with top plans concerning care management and adherence, both of which require plans to meet consumers where they are in their own care journey. Ellmore talked about turning “no” into “yes” by applying behavioral methodology to targeted messages. When users are pressed to answer a question about setting up a procedure, they are more likely to answer in the affirmative when asked a second time. She spoke about how to engage with a member who needs a procedure but has not had a PCP in years, which demonstrates that meeting the consumer where they are is essential.

Catlender of BCBS of Massachusetts approached the question with brand promise in mind. Does your organization inform consumers and how does it make them feel? “What we think about is what are we trying to achieve for the consumer,” Catlender stated, highlighting that organizations must make consumers feel supported, appreciated and empowered.

Before the panel offered several insights into how organizations can change organization culture with the idea of design thinking and which departments are likely to support this type of work, Catlender referenced several staggering data points about consumers. One point, that 80% of Americans pay up to $2,500 out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in, is particularly interesting. How do you meet the consumer where they are if you do not interact with them before they pay $2,500? This is an important question for organizations to consider as they approach designing with empathy and its potential impact.

About The Author

Michelle Ammirati

Michelle is an Analyst for Healthcare Monitor at Corporate Insight. Read more