Consider another perspective to improve healthcare relationships


I recently celebrated my daughter's fourth birthday; so my interest was piqued when I read a story from my colleague about how insurers should embrace their inner 4-year-old to enable transformation.

In the article, Medica's Vice President of Business Architecture & Strategy Kimberly Branson said she urges her team to consider the health insurance industry from a different viewpoint. "You have to ask yourself why a hundred times--why do we do it that way, why do we have to do it that way, why have we always done it that way, why can't we do it this way?"

I wholeheartedly agree. Whenever you can see a situation from another perspective--regardless of the topic or industry--it always provides unique, and sometimes unusual, ideas. That's because it's so easy to get mired in details, losing the forest among the trees.

For example, when parenting my own 4-year-old, it frequently works to my (and the whole family's) advantage to understand her viewpoint. Since she can't regulate her own emotions or manage her behavior yet, my husband and I know something's amiss when she starts acting out in typical preschooler fashion.

So we pause to consider the day from her vantage point to determine where the aggression, anxiety or upset is coming from. Often times, it's due to our failure to address her needs. If we can immediately provide some quality attention, she almost always calms down as she basks in our presence.

The same can be said for insurers: The more they can truly understand where their customer is coming from, the better they'll see their point and be able to work with that member. Plus, the more insurers can appreciate and value providers' experiences and opinions, the better they can collaborate and implement innovative payment programs that help lower costs while boosting quality care.

It's often communication issues that cause relationships to break down. By recognizing the other side of the equation--whether consumers or providers--insurers can improve how they interact, bringing more awareness and consideration to the table.

That means fewer misunderstandings and miscommunications. It's been clearly documented that through strong relationships, insurers and providers can successfully move the cost needle. And by listening to members and other consumers, insurers can boost their enrollment numbers and satisfaction rates.

Medica was able to do just that as its employees asked why and found their inner 4-year-old. The Minnesota-based insurer has created a new health plan model with more flexibility and automation and experiments with new ways to interact with providers.

I hope other insurers can embrace differing viewpoints to implement positive change throughout their companies and the industry as a whole. - Dina (@HealthPayer)