BUPA turns to tech to simplify health insurance

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BUPA turns to tech to simplify health insurance
Credit: BUPA A/NZ

'Curates' paths through complexity for customers.

Health insurer BUPA is hoping to use technology to “curate” paths for customers through Australia’s complex healthcare system, augmenting mandated simplifications due next year.

Growth and performance marketing director David Hirsch told the Adobe Symposium Australia 2018 last month that BUPA was yet to “nail” a simple experience for customers.

The importance of doing so is two-fold. First, the industry must conform to new regulations next year that aim to cut the complexity out of categorising hospital insurance products.

But second, Hirsch noted, health insurance by its nature meant that customers were engaging at potentially stressful times in their lives, and it made sense from a customer experience standpoint to simplify that engagement as much as possible.

“One of the customer pain points from a health insurance perspective is navigating an incredibly complex health system between public and private … and what to do when something happens,” he said.

“There’s much more emotion involved in a health insurance episode than potentially a car or home insurance episode.

“Our role is being a guide for those customers [in that situation, but] I don’t think we’ve actually nailed that yet. It’s challenge BUPA and all of our competitors are facing and there’s no easy solution.”

Hirsch said the insurer has been working to improve the customer experience, which it said covered “any interaction from a person with our brand in any form, whether it’s someone in an aged care home or a [fully] digital experience”.

He said that BUPA is using a full stack of Adobe technologies including conversion rate optimisation, analytics and experience management.

While those components had separately brought about improvements, Hirsch noted that the pieces were particularly powerful together and that data is the “glue which binds all the pieces together”.

However, he noted that technology “is just the mechanism” for improving customer experience.

“If you can create and curate experiences using the technology, that’s what gets you there,” he said.

Hirsch noted the challenges in securing ongoing funding for customer experience transformation, because the projects are typically complex and not short-term undertakings.

“Utilising and then optimising technology to get value out of it actually takes quite a long time, and you’ve really got to be able to sell that journey [to the business],” he said.

“It’s not just ‘we get the technology’ and we’re there.”

One thing keeping BUPA on track is setting a high bar on those it benchmarks itself against.

“When you talk about competitors, is it Medibank for us or Amazon and Google because of what they might do in the future?” Hirsch said.

“If you measure yourself against your peers that’s probably not the best way to stay ahead.”

Hirsch said that BUPA had slowly seen the pace of change internally accelerate.

“How we’ve gotten there has been organic in some instances in terms of bringing new technology on, and some of it has been more [from] enterprise-wide transformation,” he said.

One of the outstanding customer experience challenges BUPA faced is making the experience seamless across physical and digital operations.

This idea of not treating digital as a separate operation has spawned a buzzword of its own - “phygital” - and is becoming more common in the strategies of larger enterprises.

“We’ve got very different businesses: dental, aged care, optical, health insurance and a number of others,” Hirsch said.

“The expectation when customers see the [BUPA logo] ‘blue cube’ is that they get a similar experience or there’s something that connects these experiences, so that’s something we’re very focused on creating.

“We also want to make it seamless for them to transfer from different environments, such as from a physical to a digital environment, and that’s where the technology comes in.

“It really enables us to curate those type of experiences and facilitate something that does appear to be seamless.”

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