April 28, 2022
A People-Centric Approach to Digital Transformation in Health Insurance
By Meg Collins, Ideon’s Chief Growth Officer
By now the argument is all too familiar: Digital transformation offers a host of attractive rewards, ranging from cost savings to improved customer experience.
That’s especially true in health insurance, an industry long dominated by established carriers skeptical of change but also being disrupted by new technology platforms reimagining benefits administration. In this rapidly evolving ecosystem, organizations that embrace digital change will inevitably emerge in a stronger competitive position.
But there’s a caveat. For digital transformation to be, well, transformative, it must be done right.
And that’s far easier said than done. According to research by consulting giant McKinsey, the success rate of organizational transformations in general is lower than 30%. Digital refittings—which require collaboration between multiple business groups—are even tougher to make work. Just 16% of respondents to the McKinsey survey said that digital transformation efforts at their organizations “have successfully improved performance and also equipped them to sustain changes in the long term.”
There are many reasons for this, but according to Boston Consulting Group one commonality reigns supreme: The human dimension is usually most vital to the outcome of attempted digital transformations.
In other words: Operating models, processes, and culture are at least as important to digital-transformation success as the technologies themselves. That’s certainly our experience at Ideon. With our APIs, we have successfully helped organizations in every corner of the health insurance and benefits ecosystem. But in doing so we have also observed the importance of a people-centric approach. And though every company is unique, the following four imperatives will go a long way to getting digital transformation right at any organization:
- Establish clear goals and governance. In planning stages, digital transformation should be attacked quasi-journalistically: What are we doing? Why are we doing this? Who is accepting ownership of this project? Where will we procure resources from? What is the sequence of events? Whether your organization seeks to replace legacy IT infrastructure or create an end-to-end customer experience, leaders should create a roadmap with quantifiable outcomes for digital transformation projects. But they must also be sure to make clear who “owns” each undertaking, instilling in each owner a clear understanding of how their work fits into the greater whole.
- Craft a compelling story. Many of the strongest reasons for dramatic change make for an uninspiring or anxiety-causing narrative. This is notably so with digital transformation, which many employees interpret as job-threatening. That’s why it’s crucial for leadership to craft a compelling story about where a company is headed and why wholesale change in technology and process is necessary. More often than not, that story involves improving the customer experience, but whatever the tale, it needs to be told and reinforced—via regular updates—so that all decisions can be easily understood as part of a meaningful journey.
- Assemble a complete team. Yes, having tech-savvy and tech-embracing people on transition teams is crucial. And yes, it’s important to include leaders from across an organization. But it’s also crucial to involve employees of all ranks and personality types wherever possible in planning and execution. First, because wholesale change inevitably impacts employees and workflows at all levels. But also because inclusion builds buy-in, increasing the likelihood that changing priorities, shifting tactics, and other crucial information is widely disseminated. Nothing increases mistrust more than actual or perceived secrecy, and an inclusive transition team helps avoid that reality or perception. Finally, building a transformation team that accounts for personality types and roles lessens the likelihood that this extremely important endeavor will be derailed by unhealthy (and all-too-common) group dynamics.
- Encourage input. Digital transformation is usually messy and rarely without challenges. As a result, it’s important to provide all employees with a mechanism to comment on or contribute to transformation planning or execution in (relatively) real time. This fosters a valuable sense of ownership and investment, which helps to avoid internal resistance (a common-enough phenomenon that it has a name: “blocking”) and also overcome the inevitable glitches or missteps.
Digital transformation is almost always a momentous undertaking, but it need not be intimidating. Organizations that succeed in keeping people and culture top of mind are already halfway to meaningful change. We know this at Ideon, because we see it happen every day with our customers and partners. We can’t enable your entire transformation, but when it comes to revamping your digital connectivity strategy, Ideon is happy to help. Contact us to learn more!