MEREDITH Strategy + Design

We design the places and spaces where people come together to do great work

B2B2B2C – How should we design for the emerging business models in the health insurance industry?

Everything about the insurance business has changed. Driven by regulation, demographics, and economic factors, successful insurance companies of the future will look different, act differently, and appear in different places than has been the convention over the past few decades. Their next moves will include entirely new business models, new capabilities, new organizational forms, and substantially different staff skills.

But while everything about the insurance business is changing, nothing about the insurer’s workplace yet has.

Past principles of workplace planning now present significant barriers to the agility required to shape new performance profiles.  Already, these older models of planning and design have inhibited the attraction of the new kinds of workers, and they are inadequate to support the development of the new skills necessary to capture and sustain industry leadership.

Programmed and planned on a transaction processing model, the high-walled, densely-packed, heads-down, supervisor-monitored pattern that characterizes the workplaces of the industry is no longer relevant to the way that a new generation of industry leaders will work.

Future workplace planning will no longer be about more cubicles or less. Creative planners will instead deploy innovative concepts to nurture new cultures and authentically support the work modes, workstyles and workflows that activate and amplify consumer-centric strategies and solutions.

The design of the insurers workplace will become one of the most effective devices in the strategic toolbox of breakout industry leaders.

insurance workplace_cropped


Consumers choosing a healthcare plan now rank that task as the second-most difficult decision in their lives. They experience more confusion and conflict in choosing a plan than they do buying a car, making choices about treatments, making decisions about parenting, or buying car, home or life insurance.

They are also burdened double-digit healthcare cost inflation. They are increasingly frustrated with the quality of information and the limitations in choice. They are fed-up over the complexity in their healthcare experiences.

Healthcare consumers are, however, increasingly taking advantage of industry-disrupting offerings that are moving their attention from illness to wellness, and from filing claims to seeking advice. The information and tools now at their disposal have them looking for increased control in their choices of plans and treatments, increased awareness of the factors that affect their health, and increased responsibility for their own wellness.

In order to achieve leadership and growth, insurance companies must now reorient their attention. To be competitive and successful, they will have to quickly bring the individual consumer into the center of their focus. They will need to make a fundamental strategic shift from  B2B to B2C, from business-to-business models to business-to-consumer products.

It’s about the experience, stupid!

The leading health insurers of the future will therefore be the ones who “own” the customer experience.

The emerging “consumerization” of the health insurance will be delivered in new business models. They will provide insights from “big data” to branded healthcare systems, break the clinical paradigm to collaborate with consumers in maintaining their health, and enhance the customer experience through personalized solutions, digitized services and redesigned facilities to reflect radically new “point-of-purchase” approaches to insurance and healthcare.

"Convenience,” it has been said, will be the new “quality” in healthcare.

Implications for the health insurer’s workplace

These new models mean moving from underwriting risk and processing claims to managing the health of individuals and populations.

To make these strategic shifts and to ignite customer engagement, insurers will also have to ignite staff engagement.

It’s not about sales and claims, anymore. Leading insurance companies will look and act more like data analysts, software developers, retail consultants, product designers, process engineers, and trusted advisers. The places and spaces where their people will work will bring best practice designs from leading companies in these other industries.

The leading insurer’s workplace will test and deploy new concepts to appeal to a new kind of worker, engage everybody in product innovation and services quality, allow information about the business to move fluidly, and communicate a new kind of culture and commitment.

One insurer’s workplace moves

Responding to data-informed insights about its customers anxieties, one Midwestern insurer re-branded its products and services around “peacemaking.” Its workplace was then redesigned to provide the settings that nurtured the behaviors of peacemakers.

Some design principles to test

Success will start with transforming the culture – Design for the behaviors that characterize that culture, not for titles

Look like who you say you are – Top talent now seeks the places where they can see their part in its work

Provide a healthy workplace – How can a health insurance company not provide a workplace that is at the front edge of sustainable design principles, and recognized with certification?

Make an agile workspace – Success depends on innovation and speed, so provide people  a light and adaptable workplace that they can shape to their purpose and projects

Provide a social workspace – Nurturing a culture and developing the trust essential to collaboration means that people need to get to know each other well, so give them attractive and effective places to do that

Include a couple of club chairs and a lamp table – Continuous learning will be very important in the emerging enterprise, and the best learning is contextual and spontaneous, more like casual mentoring than formal training