This week I spoke on a panel with other CEOs in our industry where we looked at the future of our business and projected where we could be in 10 years. I talked about how my daughter and I shared the common interest of watching every moment of the Olympics we could during the past two weeks. As we watched, we frequently saw a new ad from Apple, titled “The Human Family” that just reinforced to me where we need to be as an industry. The ad was filmed with Apple’s iPhone 6, showcasing its brilliance. Many credit the iPhone with transforming mobile communication and computing. Combining ease of use with the expanse of the internet, it provides a platform for the discovery and delivery of digital content.
An obvious analogy to insurance…
Or at least a vision.
The iPhone is one of the most sophisticated pieces of mobile technology on the planet – necessarily so, in many ways, because the designers want the consumer experience to be simple. When it arrives in its elegant yet effortless packaging, you are eager to tear open the thin layer of clear plastic that is attached without seams and slide open the box that serves as a nest, cradling the technology waiting to be awakened. No manuals, no hassle, a “Hello” in whatever language you prefer – and even charged for immediate use.
The technology behind the screen is complex, made even more so by the fact that it wants to do the work for you. No 34 keys, not even a traditional 10-key phone pad. Just ONE button. One home button to access the expansive capabilities you know exist but don’t want to fully understand – and Apple doesn’t make you. It is content to deliver advanced communication and internet access through one button and an endless selection of apps to satisfy even the most avid consumer.
But we are in insurance, much more complicated and detailed and sophisticated than a phone. We need regulations and forms and policies and waivers and authorities and plan descriptions that require pages and pages of detail. As a consumer, you would be disadvantaged without the voluminous material we send you, usually through the U.S. Postal Service on pieces of paper.
Or so we have convinced ourselves.
Employers have invested in a broad range of programs from preventative to wellness to specialty care and assistance to traditional benefits. They provide all of this to the employee in the form of detailed and often confusing instructions for each so the employee can sort it out as needed. No simple package cradling the program to awaken. No program charged for immediate use.
What if we had one home button? What if the questions and 800 numbers were replaced with, “Hello, how are you feeling today? I’m sorry to hear that. Are you able to go to work today? Would you like to see your doctor today? We care about you today…”
Behind the home button we mask all of the complexity that is the current state of healthcare and plan designs. We sort out for the employee, based on their feedback, what plans or programs can help them and who pays for it. But to the employee there is a single, simple, elegant access to the well-intended but extremely complicated insurance and benefits world.
One home button. That is the vision.
Dave North, president and CEO, Sedgwick