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    Three technology innovations helping Cigna meet customers’ needs

    We are in a time of tremendous technology opportunity in healthcare innovation. Consider what we’re able to do in healthcare today. For example, it is possible to create patient-specific, biodegradable implants using 3D printing, use artificial intelligence tools to put the evidence base into the clinician’s hands at the point of care, and perform common diagnostic tests via a smartphone.

    But as groundbreaking as these capabilities are, the challenge is to apply innovation in a manner that creates improved access to higher quality care at a lower cost—what is termed the triple aim. The buzzwords hit us every day: cloud, analytics, sensors, big data, ubiquitous computing—the reality is that we can make these important concepts relevant only when we apply them in ways that advance the triple aim, and integrate them into a healthcare system that even today remains highly fragmented.

    At Cigna, technology is viewed as a strategic enabler that powers our business strategy—creating closer, more meaningful connections with our customers during the moments that matter. It is during those critical moments, when our customers most depend on us, that we use innovation to meet these customer needs, provide support and deliver the best possible clinical outcomes. At the same time, our customers are pulling from experiences outside the healthcare industry that shape their expectations of how they want to be engaged. They’ve come to expect personalized, easy to use, digital services from retailers and other companies—and they expect the same with healthcare.

    The innovation conversation is centered on first understanding customer needs and expectations—and then evaluating how technology enables the solution. We have deployed this approach at a local market level.

    For example, employees of one large Cigna client, based in the United Kingdom, were challenged with the queues for urgent care in the government-sponsored National Health System. To complement the existing healthcare system, we partnered with the client to develop a completely mobile virtual health team app, WinstonQED. This app brought together telemedicine, e-prescribing, instrumentation, and virtual health and wellness support in a manner that was unique in the marketplace.

    Another client, based in China, was focused on addressing the stress-related issues of their customer service representatives. Given the client’s interest in virtual and augmented reality, we brought to market a virtual relaxation solution through virtual gaming headsets. Other client companies around the world have now requested similar onsite solutions. The result: Cigna Virtual Health, a portfolio of virtual reality apps, is changing the way clients manage high-stress situations for their employee populations.

    Finally, one of our global clients was seeking a solution that would help guide its employees through critical healthcare decision points, such as selecting a plan, choosing a primary care physician or receiving preventive services. Through a new app called Cigna One Guide, customers can personalize their tool kit and receive timely information that helps them make more informed, engaged decisions. The degree of personalization is unparalleled, and truly represents a significant advancement in applying CRM concepts to help customers navigate the complexities of the healthcare experience.

    The learning for healthcare vertical is this: First understand your customers—their needs and their preferences—and then build the technology solution set, rather than chasing the new shiny object.  Our focus on localized and targeted innovation aligned to our strategic imperatives enables Cigna to make the mission real: improving health, well-being and sense of security.

    Mark Boxer, PhD, is executive vice president and global chief information officer for Cigna, where he is responsible for driving the company’s worldwide technology strategy.

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