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Lessons from the 2019 JPMorgan Healthcare Conference

January 17, 2019

Christian Selchau-Hansen, CEO

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at the 2019 JPMorgan Healthcare Conference. Joining Jasson Gilmore of Allergan, Nick Spadea-Anello of Boston Scientific, [email protected]’s Stephanie Bova, Sam Holliday of Emile Scientific, and moderator Gunnar Trommer, we looked at how data and analytics can fuel growth in healthcare.

The conversation was lively—a discussion of things like data availability, customer experience, privacy, regulation, digital channels—but what I found most striking was the fact that despite a number of unique characteristics of the healthcare industry, it shares an underlying truth with virtually every other vertical: namely, the customer (in healthcare’s case, the patient) is king.

Let me explain—

Achieving growth comes from understanding individual customer goals and being able to act on them.

Understanding the individual patient’s motivations is critical. Take weight loss, for example. There are many reasons why someone may try to lose weight: heart health, mobility, diabetes, appearance. And in order to assist a specific customer with a weight-loss regimen, healthcare providers need to understand their specific motivation. A grim statistic about cardiovascular risks is not going to resonate with a patient who’s just trying to get abs, after all.

The importance of understanding individual customer goals and acting on them is consistent across any vertical. To illustrate, let me draw on our experience with a major U.S. airline. Take two flyers—one a frequent business traveler; the other, a family vacationer. While nominally consumers of the same product—plane tickets—their priorities are vastly different. The business traveler, toting an expense account and a busy schedule, prizes speed and convenience over everything else. In contrast, the family vacationer, who flies infrequently and pays for things out of pocket, is often looking to maximize value.

As with the dieter, to motivate these fliers, you need to speak to their respective priorities. The business traveler will respond to offers of accelerated premium status and the promise that they’ll be able to zip through lines as a result. The occasional flyer and family vacationer, on the other hand, will respond better to an offer to earn miles through non-flying activities and the ability to spend those miles to save on their vacation. Again, to truly engage each customer, it is critical to understand and address them individually.

Map out the customer journey in order to find a path to success.

In addition to understanding the customer’s goals, creating a customer journey that makes sense given the goals is critical. Returning to our weight loss example—the first few weeks of a diet are typically the hardest. The dieter is trying to break old habits and establish new, healthier ones. A month in, they are starting to make progress, but reinforcement of these new, healthier eating habits is still needed—one slip-up and it’s back to square one. Six months in, the diet is starting to feel like second nature, and they might now be looking to expand on this health kick by going to the gym, let’s say.

Again, the importance of understanding the context of each customer in their journey is universal. Banking—a field where we’ve done some work—provides a useful example. We all probably would like to make progress on our financial well-being. Banks, too, have an interest in helping new customers adopt healthy financial habits. It engenders brand affinity, minimizes risk, and increases the customer’s overall lifetime value. In order to help customers adopt these beneficial behaviors—building their credit, let’s say—banks should provide encouragement at the right moments of the customer’s journey.

Like the dieter, it starts with seeding the behavior. In order to do so, a credit card issuer might make this offer: Select a budget and pay your bill in full, and receive some extra points. The customer bites. This behavior then needs to be reinforced—do this three months in a row and some more points. As the months roll on, this behavior starts to become a habit. Once this habit—sticking to a budget and paying in full—is engrained, the bank could suggest additional, healthy behaviors. Start building your nest egg with an investment account and receive a $500 bonus, for instance.

Machine learning augmentation and acceleration.

So how do you understand and engage each customer—and do it at scale. The answer is not more segmentation. Rather, as we’ve found over the last three years, the focus should be on augmenting and automating decisions with machine learning to engage individual customers at a superhuman scale. I’m the first to admit there are many important components to delivering the vision of individual customer engagement: data, content creation, analytics, and new ways of working, to name a few. But, based on our experience with some Fortune 150 companies who are leading this charge and millions of their consumers, the investment is not only worth it, it’s necessary to engage today’s consumer—and that is true whether in retail, financial services, or healthcare.

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