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    The changing face of healthcare leadership

    Ten million people are expected to hit the insurance marketplaces to enroll in healthcare plans by the end of 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. More than 25% of them are expected to sign up during this fall’s open enrollment period that ends January 31, 2016.

    What kind of experience will consumers be looking for when they log on to the insurance marketplaces? According to the consulting firm Accenture, 87% of U.S. consumers want to be able to project expenses and select coverage levels.

    The consulting firm found that consumers are also looking for:

    • A simple, retail-like shopping experience;

    • Increased choice and flexibility with benefits;

    • A diverse product set; and

    • Decision-support tools that help them “chose what’s right for me.”

    Delivering on the needs of those 10 million consumers descending on public and private insurance exchanges to buy their insurance is a challenge that will require a new way of thinking within payer organizations, says Sherry Rohlfing, principal at DeltaSigma, LLC. “Healthcare reform has changed the way that consumers get into the insurance market. Historically, members have joined health plans through their employers or brokers or agents. That meant that payers rarely dealt directly with consumers.”

    Payers will have to meet the needs of consumers who have grown accustomed to the experience they have on Amazon.com or on PetSmart.com or when they gamble at a casino in Las Vegas.

    SokolThus, it’s not a big surprise that Aetna snapped up Gary Loveman, former chief executive officer of casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. to serve as president of Heathagen, the payer’s population health technology services and enablement entity, says Rachel Sokol, senior consultant for the health plan advisory council within the Advisory Board Company's strategic research division.

    Loveman’s tenure at Caesars includes the development of a customer loyalty program called Total Rewards, in 1998. According to The Wall Street Journal, the program allows loyal customers to earn and redeem points for meals. In return for providing benefits to these 45 million members, the casino captures data about them and uses it in marketing campaigns to drive revenue at its 50 casinos around the country.

    While he may shake up things at Aetna, Loveman is certainly going to bring with him a deep understanding of consumer behavior. And having him onboard could be a game changer for the company. “If you’re going to understand the consumer space, you have to have people in your organization who understand consumer buying behavior,” says Managed Healthcare Executive Editorial Advisory Board Member Don Hall, principal at DeltaSigma, LLC.

    For that reason, retail entities such as Amazon.com and high-tech companies such as Google should be one of the first places health plans look when recruiting new leaders, he says, adding that Disney could also be a good place to source talent because of its high-touch consumer focus.

    Here's more on how the changing industry is leading healthcare organizations to prioritize new skill sets during recruitment efforts.

    Next: Seeking customer-obsessed leaders

    Aine Cryts
    Aine Cryts is a freelancer based in Boston. She is a frequent contributor to Managed Healthcare Executive on topics such as diabetes, ...

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