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Published: May 28, 2013
 / Summer 2013 / Issue 71

 
 

Putting an I in Healthcare

To enhance their ability to capture and utilize insights, healthcare organizations will need to integrate all the data they gather from customer touch points and meld it with external demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal consumer data. Then, they will need to artfully redesign their processes and systems to optimize their products and services and to affordably bring them to market. For instance, companies will have to adopt rapid product design processes and create a tighter alignment between the product development function and consumer-facing functions, such as marketing, sales, and customer service. In many healthcare companies, this will be easier said than done, requiring fundamental shifts in how business is conducted, how success is measured, and how the corporate culture operates.

2. Engaging care delivery. Involving consumers in the care-delivery process will require the development of tools and programs that give people incentives to pursue healthier lifestyles and participate more actively in the medical treatment they receive, and enable a new clinical operating paradigm that coordinates care around the patient.

Consider the advent of healthcare bundles. As more and more bundles appear on the market, their cost and quality will become more transparent, enabling consumers to easily shop for them. In turn, this will encourage competition among the providers that offer bundles. In a Booz & Company survey of roughly 1,000 U.S. healthcare consumers in October 2012, 78 percent of respondents found the concept of bundled care appealing. Among the benefits they would expect to reap from care bundles are lower prices, greater price clarity and transparency, more integrated care, the ability to provide input in care processes, and simplified billing.

Healthcare bundles are starting to drive costs down by streamlining, standardizing, and coordinating what were formerly discrete and often highly variable processes and procedures, transforming them into comprehensive, patient-centric delivery systems. In October 2012, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced agreements with six leading hospital systems, including Cleveland Clinic, Geisinger Health System, and Mayo Clinic, for exclusive, fixed-price care bundles for certain heart, spine, and transplant surgeries. This enables the company to provide incentives to employees who choose one of the six providers. If an employee who requires one of these procedures uses one of the fixed-price bundle providers, the employee’s out-of-pocket expenses are eliminated and other expenses related to receiving the care, such as travel, lodging, and food for the patient and a caregiver, are provided without charge.

As Walmart’s agreements suggest, employers can play a valuable role in encouraging consumer engagement. Whole Foods Market, which provides its own health insurance to its employees, is using several programs to build healthy lifestyles into its corporate culture. In CEO John Mackey’s new book, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business (with Raj Sisodia, Harvard Business Review Press, 2013), Mackey describes Whole Foods’ Team Member Healthy Discount Incentive Program. It is a voluntary program in which employees can go to a mobile lab that will measure basic biometrics, such as cholesterol levels, body mass index, and blood pressure. The healthier the employee, the higher Whole Foods will raise his or her store discount above the standard 10 percent. At the highest level, employees can obtain a 30 percent discount. “Within our culture,” writes Mackey, “it has become a matter of pride for team members to move up to higher levels.”

Whole Foods has also established the Total Health Immersion Program for its least healthy and most at-risk employees. This one-week, medically supervised program provides education about healthy eating and living. Mackey reports that more than 1,300 employees took advantage of the program in its first two years, prompting the company to extend the program to spouses and partners. In 2013, Whole Foods plans to begin offering the program to the public. “It’s a win-win strategy for all stakeholders involved,” Mackey told us. “When we have healthy team members, they are happier, and happy team members provide better customer service to our shoppers. It also leads to the company needing to spend less on healthcare, which is better for investors.”

 
 
 
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Resources

  1. Gary Ahlquist, Minoo Javanmardian, Sanjay B. Saxena, and Brett Spencer, “Bundled Care: The Voice of the Consumer,” Booz & Company white paper, January 30, 2013: According to the results of a recent Booz & Company survey, U.S. consumers are ready for the advent of healthcare bundles.
  2. Minoo Javanmardian, Ashish Kaura, Sanjay B. Saxena, and Brett Spencer, “Healthcare after the Ruling: Let the Work Continue,” Booz & Company white paper, June 29, 2012: What the upholding of the Affordable Care Act will mean for insurers, care providers, pharmaceutical firms, and other healthcare companies.
  3. Ashish Kaura, David S. Levy, and Minoo Javanmardian, “Health Insurance Gets Personal,” s+b, Autumn 2010: Earlier analysis of the health insurance market’s coming retail era.
  4. Avi Kulkarni and Nelia Padilla McGreevy, “A Strategist’s Guide to Personalized Medicine,” s+b, Winter 2012: The tailoring of treatments to specific populations is changing the game for key industry stakeholders.
  5. Ramez Shehadi, Walid Tohme, and Edward H. Baker, “IT and Healthcare: Evolving Together at the Cleveland Clinic,” s+b (online only), Aug. 6, 2012: CIO Martin Harris on how information technology is transforming patient engagement.
  6. For more thought leadership on this topic, see the s+b website at: strategy-business.com/health_care.
 
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