Consumerism 4.0 is here. In a recent post, we discussed how viewing your employees as health and benefits consumers can help you make sense of the current explosion of digital consumer health applications. That post lays the foundation for what I’ll discuss here: how to design and execute a sustainable health program strategy that delivers for your people and your organization. Start with three guiding principles:
- Improve outcomes. Cost savings through plan design are temporary. Invest in helping your people access higher quality care and in healthcare advocacy tools personalized to their needs.
- Simplify the experience. Take the guesswork out of benefits. Empower your employees to take control of their health with year-round support by phone, chat or an AI-powered bot to get their questions answered.
- Be future ready. Think beyond your workforce today and design experiences that adapt to your changing employee population.
To translate these principles into action, try “human-centered design thinking.” You’re probably already practicing it to some extent. We discussed this approach in recent webinar in our Health Insight series Cracking the Design Code to Engage Employees. There are five aspects to human-centered design thinking. They’re not steps to follow in any particular order; rather they constitute a new way to approach problem-solving in your benefits operation. It may be challenging for your benefit team at first, but the ideation, iteration and interplay that is inherent in human-centered design can produce more creative and insight-driven solutions – and a more satisfying experience for the people involved in the process.
- Empathize. “Fall in love” with the problem(s) your employees (consumers!) are having by listening and empathizing with their challenges.
- Define your consumers’ problem and their needs, and the insights you’ve gained by listening to them.
- Ideate. Get out of your comfort zone by challenging your assumptions and generating ideas – no matter how wild they might seem at first -- that might lead to innovative solutions.
- Prototype and test. Try out a “light” version of your solution and don’t be afraid to fail. More times than not, failure is what will put you on the right path.
- Get comfortable with “MVP.” When you change your focus from the finish line to a design-thinking continuum, getting to a “minimum viable product” is part of the process of developing insights and answers.
We’re big fans for human-centered design thinking at Mercer. It’s the creative force behind Mercer Marketplace 365+ and a host of new solutions that we’re developing in collaboration with our clients and strategic partners. As you start to consider how you might infuse design thinking into your own health and benefits program, feel free to reach out! In today’s complex healthcare system, when you connect stakeholders and give them license to think broadly and creatively, big problems get solved. Care to join us?