EveryMove blog

How Marketing Can Save Healthcare

By Russell Benaroya

Marketing and healthcare in the same sentence can kind of make people feel a little squeamish.  There is something seemingly uncomfortable for health insurance to market to people based on health related information gathered through medical claims data.  There is also a perception that people don’t want to be marketed to about their health.  I think both of these statements are false perceptions we must debunk if we truly believe in putting the consumer at the center of their health. 

Goodbye Member Abrasion!

Have you heard of this term, “member abrasion”?  Member abrasion basically means that health insurance plans don’t want to piss off their members by bombarding them with communications that get annoying.  Many health plans, as a result, don’t experiment because they fear member abrasion.  They also believe that their net promoter scores are so low they don’t want to do anything that might make them worse.  But herein lies the opportunity.  It can’t get much worse so why not change what you’re doing and lean in?  Of course we don’t want to piss off a member (that’s just basic logic) but we live in a marketing world and I can’t think of one company that I feel has “abraded” me.  I am capable of deleting emails and not thinking anything of it. 

If I believed in abrasion I would say that it comes by sending out highly repetitive communications through the same channel. That gets annoying.  But similar communications through multiple channels or different communications through the same channel is not going to trigger the member abrasion concern.  Can we please stop using member abrasion as an excuse for why marketing in healthcare is so sensitive and challenging?  Phew, okay.  Let’s move on.

Back to Basics

Engaging people to become better equipped to manage their health is so ready-made for marketing it makes me giddy.  Marketing is not selling.  Marketing is about developing a demand for your product and fulfilling the needs and interests of the customer.   It might be best captured in the the famous 4 P’s (what’s the product; what’s the priceor value; how will it reach the customer’s place; and how will it be promoted).  Health plans are struggling to engage consumers in their health because the fundamental 4P’s aren’t being prioritized. 

But what would it look like if marketing did take center stage within a health plan, where there was a commitment to member marketing and a belief that customers actually would like to be marketed to because they are so healthcare illiterate they don’t know what they should be doing. 

Product – Let’s redefine the healthcare product to be more than just a health insurance policy.  If it’s important that the consumer take certain actions to reduce the need to trigger that policy the product should come with something that would be enjoyable to market, like free visits, screenings or new services being promoted.  And I’m suggesting that these actually get marketed with the intent that health plans actually want these services getting used by certain of their customers.

Price – What is value of health screening, an immunization or a primary care wellness visit?  What about signing up for health coaching, using telehealth, or accessing second opinion services?  It’s hard to market a service if the health plan doesn’t know the value of the thing they are marketing.  But let’s assume it has real business value (which it does) then the price or value might come in the form of an incentive to encourage a member to take action.   Even more interesting is that the value of that incentive could be (and should be) different based on the value of that specific consumer engaging in it (example:  a chronic utilizer of emergency room services is more valuable to steer to telehealth than someone who has never stepped foot in an emergency room).

Place – Place is about distribution.  Where will consumer engagement be marketed.  Here’s the deal – not every member is created equally for a health plan.  There are certain people managing chronic conditions that are more important than those that are healthy and active.  Where do these people show up?  How do they want to be communicated to? 

Promotion – The strategy to promote consumer engagement is where health insurance plans need to embrace marketing automation.  Getting a 360 degree view of their member will help determine the most appropriate touchpoints and places to engage that align with the interests and needs of like consumers.   

Marketing has been undervalued at health insurance plans for too long.  Today, marketing may be the most important function to driving consumer engagement and bending the cost curve.  Consumers don’t risk becoming abraded.  They risk being so unsure of what to do that their health suffers. 

As we stare into the abyss of the future of healthcare in America, it’s hard to agree where we go from here.  So much of our work is spent putting band-aids on fundamental structural problems that we don’t have time to see that we can build a bridge to the other side.

Posted on September 26, 2016 04:00 PM


EveryMove Adds to its Clinical Advisory Board

By Russell Benaroya

Today EveryMove is being called on to bring its member engagement capabilities into more clinical areas of healthcare.  Why?  Because the people that benefit the most from taking the right health actions are those who are managing a health condition.  Our experience in building technology solutions that delight consumers to engage with their health is what makes us well positioned to continue making a bigger impact across the health spectrum.  Our goal in building our new product, Tandem, was to provide customers the flexibility to drive targeted health actions to serve both the well and chronically ill.  

In order to best serve our customers desiring more clinical related health actions we are excited to announce that Christopher Mathews, MD has joined our clinical advisory board.  Dr. Mathews is currently the Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Zeomega, one of the premier population health platforms that helps health plans and care delivery organizations deliver a better and more personalized care experience for individuals. Prior to Zeomega, Dr. Mathews was the SVP and Chief Medical Officer at Community Health Plan.  Community Health Plan is a well known managed care company that has demonstrated success in delivering quality care at a reasonable cost.  

As a member of the advisory group, Dr. Mathews will play an important role in supporting Tandem to define the health actions that will yield the greatest benefit for the individual and the sponsoring organization (health plan or self funded employer).  Our job is to take those actions and build them into a Tandem Offer that encourages an individual to take action for their health!

We are excited to welcome Christopher Mathews to the team!  

Posted on September 15, 2016 08:43 PM


Health and Well-Being as a Competitive Advantage -- Invitation to Work Room

By Russell Benaroya

There are few people I have met that are as interesting and captivating as Andrew Sykes.  Every conversation I have had with Andrew has helped me better understand, well… people… and how to build experiences that can actually engage people to improve their health and quality of life.  It’s through what Andrew calls the science of habits

As the founder of a product called Tandem which helps employers and health plans engage individuals to take specific health actions, I’ve had a lot to gain from the science of habits.  That’s why I’m so excited that Andrew has decided to take his knowledge to a broader audience with a program he is launching called Work Room. 

Recruiting top talent to organizations is hard.  Keeping people operating at their best once they have joined is critical!  Often times employees aren’t able to give their best at work because other areas of their life create stress and anxiety, or just plain get in the way.  Many employers have taken an active role in helping improve the well-being of employees because they know that healthier employees leads to more productive employees and reduces healthcare costs.  But the question is how?  Solutions today to engage employees around well-being have been inconclusive at best.  Yet there is data that shows that engaged employees do indeed work better and cost less.  That’s not the issue.  The challenge is implementation - putting strategies and tactics in place that can help employers and their employees reap these benefits.  This is what Work Room is all about and why we're excited to be a part of it.  

Work Room is a 3-day interactive workshop to help employers become “employers of choice” by investing in the health, happiness and security of their employees.  It is about giving an employer a competitive advantage with the take home tools and techniques that can make a difference quickly.  It is about building confidence and motivation to critically assess solutions that claim to activate employees but typically under deliver on results.  It is about acknowledging that every employee is different and your desired actions for them should be aligned with their interests, capabilities and motivations.

On October 4-6 in Seattle, WA, Andrew Sykes is presenting Work Room, a transformational series aimed at organizational leaders that believe the health and well-being of their employees should be a strategic advantage. They are organizing Work Room in partnership with Vivacity, a wellbeing and productivity consulting company.  We are excited to be presenting Tandem at the conference on October 6th to show how we apply some of Andrew’s strategies in a digital solution for employees.

You can learn more at www.findworkroom.com and register at: www.workroomseattle.eventbrite.com.  If you are interested in the workshop and would like to inquire with me about a discount, please do so.  You can reach me at russell@everymove.com.  I’d love to have you attend and not miss experiencing the impact of Andrew Sykes on your organization.

Posted on September 14, 2016 03:36 PM


What Would Jeff Bezos Do In Healthcare?

By Russell Benaroya

At a conference I recently attended a health insurance executive suggested that if health plans want to re-invent themselves they should evaluate their decisions by first asking, “What would Jeff Bezos do?”  What does that mean exactly?  So I pondered it.  Here are the top 7 things Jeff Bezos would do if he were leading a health insurance company.

He would demand accountability and high performing teams.   Now I’m not suggesting that the Amazon work environment is awesome (by many accounts it isn’t) but it does encourage conflict to drive toward the best decisions.  The culture eliminates the wrong people on the bus quickly and those that are able to stay on for the ride can be rewarded.  There is no place for complacency.

He would celebrate failure.  Hey, have you heard much about the Amazon Fire lately?  Of course you haven’t because it failed.  But failure is celebrated and expected.  As Austin Carr referenced in his article in Fast Company in January 2015, “Bezos has said that his job is to encourage more "bold bets" and to embrace failure inside the company in pursuit of the big successes that compensate for dozens and dozens of things that [don’t] work."   It has been said that the failure of the phone made room for what ultimately became Echo, the stand-alone voice activated digital assistant.

He would look for profit centers in his cost centers.  Today, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is over a $6 billion revenue business.  AWS offers computing power, storage, and other functionality to help other businesses scale and grow cost effectively.  AWS was borne out of the realization that their vast infrastructure could be used to help alleviate a burden for other businesses so that they could focus their costs on driving innovation.   

He would obsess about his customers.  Jeff is famous for his obsession over the customer as evidenced in this post.  Customers are precious sources of information.  There is always a seat at the table for a customer.  There is no guessing about how customers feel.  There is only data.  They listen.  They ask.  They interpret and they integrate that voice of the customer to improve their processes at every step.

He would strive to win.  My sister worked at Amazon when they were the world’s biggest bookstore.  Amazon is anything but a bookstore anymore.  They have totally changed the landscape for how we buy products and consume content.  They have taken on the establishment like the big box retailers and large media production houses and are kicking butt.  They want to dominate and that drive to win, to compete for the attention of the consumer is palpable in everything they do.  

He would operationalize innovation.  While Amazon is well known for driving new product innovation, much of that happens in a subsidiary called Lab126 where much of their R&D takes place.  But what is important is that R&D can get into the mainstream channel of the Amazon customer base and tested and iterated on quickly. 

He would redesign the delivery model.  What’s the Kindle of healthcare?  The Kindle totally changed the economics of an industry and redefined the utility of reading books.     What about drones delivering packages to our home?  How about a virtual assistant named Alexa as our digital companion?  There is no evolution....only revolution.

So what does this mean for the leaders of healthcare today?  It means there is work to do.  It means that bold leadership must replace personal fear, ego and the expectations of others with a higher purpose.  It means that complacency is not tolerated and that failures can be a celebration on the path of learning.  Who is the Jeff Bezos of healthcare today?  

Posted on April 27, 2016 03:24 PM


Running 100 Miles Toward the Health Evolution Summit

By Russell Benaroya

It’s quiet the morning of a 100 mile ultra trail race.  When all of the preparation and planning yields to the only thing that separates you from success:  100 miles of foot pounding, heart aching, mind bending, patience trying, majestic trails.

Last Saturday (April 8th, 2016) I completed the Zion 100, a 100 mile trail race that unfolds the human spirit like the deep layers of rock that created this epic canyon landscape in Southern Utah.  We started at 6am on Friday and at 9:30am Saturday I crossed the finish line having tackled 10,000 feet of elevation and a maze of trails designed to test just how bad I wanted it.  I wanted it bad.

I’m coming into this week with more commitment, more passion and more resolve to tackle life’s “trails”.  It is so apropos to gear up for the next “ultra event” at the Health Evolution Summit(HES) later this week.  Whether literally running 100 miles or figuratively navigating healthcare transformation, the attributes for success and the circumstances that determine them are similar.   

The Health Evolution Summit is the most concentrated display of leadership in healthcare, where athletes come together to figure out how to become better, faster, smarter, adaptable, and triumphant in leading an industry transformation that will improve the lives of millions of people. 

If you want to know what if feels like to run 100 miles, connect with these concepts in building your healthcare enterprise and test them this week if you’re going to be at HES. 

You can’t do it alone.  I was feeling fresh for 40 miles.  But then my legs started hurting, my stomach ached and I started questioning if I had another 60 miles in me.  At just the right time (of course) I ran next to a gal who was running a bit faster than my pace, we struck up a conversation and we ran together for the rest of the race.  She gave me renewed energy, pushed me harder, and provided a new outlook on a shared journey.

Be grateful even when it hurts.  I had a three-word mantra during the run:  Bravery, Grit, and Gratitude (BGG).  When the chips were down I repeated my BGG but I think the most important word was “Gratitude”.  At the lowest points, in the pouring rain of a mud laden trail soup, I was grateful to have this unique experience.  Even in the dips, gratitude is a powerful force.

Constantly scan for the problem areas and fix them.  I often get asked, “What do you think about for that long?”  It’s always a little hard to remember in my delirium but most of the time I’m scanning my body to check in on my systems.  How are my feet?  Am I getting enough nutrition?  How is my self talk?  There is always a system that needs attention and when I focus on solving that system I can free my mind up to tackle the next thing.  Ignoring the primary source of pain drains energy in a big way if it isn’t addressed quickly.

Take off the smartwatch.  Who doesn’t love metrics.  They are essential rails to know if you’re on the right course.  But I’ve learned to be careful about over reliance on data for such a long event.  If my metrics are too stringent I won’t take risks because I want to play it safe.  If I had been monitoring my heart rate the whole time I guarantee I would have taken more breaks and probably missed a cutoff time to continue on.  Sometimes the most important metric is being clear on the goal and having the flexibility to do what feels right at the time to achieve it.  Sure I might fail but not for lack of “going for it”.

We’re all on this journey together.  What I love about the ultra-community is that it is so supportive.  I saw the fastest runners on the course a number of times and we always said the same thing to each other, “You’re doing great.  Way to go.  Keep it up.”  We all have a common goal and yes, we might achieve it at different times but we’re aligned and that alignment propels the whole system forward. 

So here we are, heading into this week at the Health Evolution Summit in Laguna, surrounded by a different kind of ultra-community but one that is running an equally challenging 100-mile race.   I’m grateful that I could complete the Zion 100 but it can’t match the grit and bravery that will be required to transform healthcare in our country. 

That we must do together.

I want to thank Julie Murchinson and her team at the Health Evolution Summit for providing some great support and encouragement leading up to the Zion 100.  I appreciate the relationship and all that you are doing to transform healthcare.

Posted on April 11, 2016 09:49 PM


Top 5 Ways Health Plans Win by Not Competing on Price

By Russell Benaroya

Competing on price is a privilege awarded to the lowest cost producer where a competitive advantage exists.  Think Walmart’s supply chain, Costco’s bulk buying, or McDonald’s volume purchasing.  Where price can sustainably differentiate in the market, it’s a good strategy (even if for some period of time).

Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist in health insurance. It could even result in disaster.  Obamacare created the health insurance exchanges to enable millions of Americans to purchase health insurance and about 20 million Americans have already taken the government up on that offer.  Health plans that have wanted to win business are doing so on price and yes, they are getting a fair share of members. But their business is getting hammered.  Here is what the innovators are doing:
  1. NOT selling insurance at a negative gross margin and trying to make it up on volume J .  Remember buy.com or pets.com in the go go 90’s?  These companies sold products for less than it cost the company.  You don’t make it up on volume.  Many health plans are selling insurance for less than their cost of sales (as defined by a medical loss ratio) and volume is only going to exacerbate the problem.  That’s why certain health plans have stopped taking enrollees into their higher costs programs.
  2. Narrowing their networks and avoiding the PPO death spiral.  Preferred Provider Organizations that give individuals a lot of flexibility on physicians and services are a major Achilles heel for the health plan.  It’s like leaving your kids at home with a marshmallow sitting in front of them, telling them not to eat it.  You can’t expect people to adhere to boundaries if you don’t create them.  So now we’re back to the HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) model where cost boundaries can be better put in place.
  3. Not expecting anything from the government.  As we saw back in October, the Feds would only be in a position to pay 12.6% of what health plans were owedunder the risk corridor arrangement.  So much for the government as a savior as half of the Co-ops failed along with some commercial plans.  The government isn’t saving the health plans and in an election year, no one is touching this topic.
  4. Attacking risk adjustment and member engagement.  Historically, health plans could manage risk primarily on pricing passed thru to the employer.  Here that’s not possible so the levers for managing risk really come down to two areas: risk adjustment and member activation.  Risk adjustment is about getting paid for the risk that is being assumed, which can be accomplished by a physician coding a member to certain health conditions.  Activating the member is about having them do things to improve their health.  Whether that’s diabetes prevention, med adherence, screenings, wellness, or using quality services like telehealth, the point is that members have to be engaged.
  5. Focusing on retention.  Retention, lifetime value, reducing churn – whatever you want to call it – health plans want to create switching cost.  Why join and stick with a health plan?  Retention represents the benefits, the technology, the customer service, the incentives, the personalization, and yes…the price.  But you can’t build a differentiator around price, so magnify what makes you special and make it compelling to stick around through open enrollment. 

Innovative health plans are going to make a mark and are in a great position to change the healthcare landscape for the better.  Yes, there will be bumps and bruises along the way, but they must stay their course.  And that course is not paved with driving down prices.

Posted on April 6, 2016 05:58 PM


Tandem is Gaining Traction [Infographic]

By Russell Benaroya

I'm excited to share that we're starting to get some results on Tandem.  The infographic below shows the results of a usability study that was performed by a third party for an upcoming launch.  Progress! These engagement results are notable given pretty paltry industry statistics.

Tandem is designed to make it easy and fun to improve your health while giving customers the ability to offer programs and incentives that are tailored to your needs, interests, and goals.  We will keep improving on these metrics but early signs are positive.

Thanks for all the support.  If you're interested in learning more about your health plan or employer being on Tandem shoot James an email at james.andrews@everymove.com.

Posted on April 5, 2016 09:54 PM


What are your health goals? Who do you want to reward you? What is the reward?

By Russell Benaroya

I'm excited to present this survey we put out to our community to get a better sense of their goals and who and how they are interested in being rewarded.  With our launch of Tandem we have created a very flexible way for any types of sponsors to deliver rewards and incentives for a whole range of health related activities.  These could be lifestyle related or more specific to managing your health in the health system.  Examples include:

  • Visiting your physician
  • Getting your flu shot
  • Enrolling in a prevention program (e.g. diabetes)
  • Getting a screening
  • Using telehealth services
What other health related activities would you want your employer, health plan or physician to acknowledge with an incentive?  What would be motivating for you?

Posted on March 30, 2016 04:51 PM


[Infographic] The Value of Creative Consumer Retention

By Russell Benaroya
As you saw last week I wrote a post looking at the opportunities for health insurance plans to keep selling once they have a member join their health plan.  When I say "selling", I mean getting offers and services in front of people that will actually improve their health.  I mean being very clear on the value proposition of the service that's being provided and doing what you can as a health plan to make sure members are experiencing the best of it.  I put together this neat infographic to reinforce my point.    Enjoy.

Posted on March 29, 2016 08:02 PM


Health plans that build a culture of sales can improve the health of their members

By Russell Benaroya

It's All About Sales in Healthcare - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Health insurance is partly a game of hardcore sales and then a game of mitigating risk.

I had the opportunity this week to attend a Medicare Sales and Marketing conference in Nashville, TN and realized the other side of healthcare – customer acquisition.  Most of us don’t see this side because most health insurance selling is shielded from the consumer and sold through brokers.  But Medicare sold through health plans (Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement) is different.  It’s direct to the individual and quite honestly, it’s pretty exciting.    There are 55 million Medicare beneficiaries today and 10,000 people are enrolling daily.  It’s huge. And health plans are all over it.

The gloves are off to acquire Medicare eligible consumers and short of knocking door to door (which you can’t do), all tactics (subject to disclosures) are on the table.  There are TV advertisements, a ton of direct mail (the #1 customer acquisition strategy), paid search, promoted social marketing, call centers, outsourced sales organizations, sponsorships, and seminars.  Health plans are willing to pay around $1,500 to acquire a new member and about half of that will go to commission related payments.  This is sales and these sales organizations are cranking.  I’d expect nothing less when competing for a scarce resource.  Get out there and sell.  Get what’s yours.  Go!  It’s all about revenue.

But then something really strange happens once that member is sold.  All of a sudden the relationship with the health plan changes from selling to silence and it’s uncomfortable.  Maybe the implied talk goes something like this:

Consumer:  “Okay, I purchased your health insurance now please don’t bother me.”
Health Plan.  “They purchased our health insurance product so let’s not bother them”

Why the passive aggressive stance?  Well it’s partly due to a general distrust of health plans and partly because members aren’t clear what’s expected of them so they get defensive/annoyed when you ask them to do things.   

But isn’t this when the real sales should begin, when health plans start working to make sure that they are inducing new customers to do what they’re supposed to which would actually result in reducing everyone’s expenses?  By working to keep members engaged, compliant and healthy, health plans will improve retention and that will save them the $1,500 to acquire a new customer next year.  If a health plan applied the same energy to selling an existing customer as they do to trying to sell a new one we would have a much healthier relationship with our health plan and probably be healthier.  Here are some ideas for how a health plans can “sell” their existing customers:

Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I will be your care navigator this next year.   Companies like Accolade are eating health plan’s lunch by building teams of people that help individuals navigate their benefits.  They have proven to lower costs.  When I sign up for insurance I should be introduced to a named person who will be my representative throughout the period.  I may not call on them but I know they are there.  18% of Medicare Advantage members switched to other health plans last year.  That’s not insignificant.  Their #1 reason was their dissatisfaction in the help they received in understanding their coverage.  Do these things:
  • Help me schedule my appointments
  • Offer some training webinars/seminars
  • Give me a chance to meet “my navigator person” in person
  • Let me connect with them over phone, text or email
Here is your personalized roadmap for optimal prevention this yearIf you need me to do something, let me know.  Don’t be bashful about telling me I need to go get a screening or see my physician.  Heck, the health plan is taking financial risk for my health so they should feel entitled to call me and make sure I’m doing the right thing for me and them.  Health plans need to know what kind of risk they just purchased because they get paid more when they know.  They should do what they need to do to find out.

Have you considered upgrading your supplementary benefits or purchasing a life insurance plan?  If I could benefit from other products, tell me.  Why not try and sell me on a catastrophic health policy, life insurance, or more comprehensive dental or vision.  I’m not going to find out about it on my own and if you’ve built some trust then I’m going to take your advice.  Don’t screw me or I’m leaving but if you have a valuable service to provide where the perceived value is more than the cost, I’m in.

We pride ourselves on benefits that are cool, different…and you’ll use.  Health plans often use programs like Silver Sneakers (a senior gym membership network) as an enticement to join them.  It’s a dated program but it works.  That’s what a lot of people care about and would stay with their health plan because of it.  The problem is that every health plan has Silver Sneakers so it’s not differentiated.  What about unique benefit programs with:
  • Grocery stores
  • Ride sharing companies (Uber)
  • Travel (Expedia)
  • Ecommerce (Amazon)
  • Fitness classes (Classpass)
  • Select premium mobile apps
Now we’re talking.  Now this gets interesting.

We have been conditioned to get very sensitive when talking about financial matters and health as if it’s taboo and you can’t put a price on it.  Until an individual become a member of the health plan it’s okay but once on the inside then we start using terms like patients which changes everything.  People aren’t patients.  They are people who entered into a financial transaction where each party has responsibilities and obligations.  Selling takes on a different form but make no mistake that health plans that continue “selling” will not only be more financially successful but they will improve the health of their population.

Posted on March 24, 2016 03:34 PM