Continuous Improvement is an Every Day Priority
by Daniel J. Loepp
| 3 min read
When I go out and meet with our employer customers, I typically leave those meetings with two clear takeaways. First, every one of our customers is concerned about how much health care costs them. Second, every customer is focused on doing their own business better every day. No matter what business you’re in, continuous improvement matters. It matters because, without it, a business quickly falls behind its competition. In the race to do better, there is no industry with a more urgent need than health care. This is why I’ve made continuous improvement a focus of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan every day. In today’s business world, CEOs can simply cut costs. But at Blue Cross, we don’t believe cutting the budget can be our only strategy to better outcomes. In fact, doing that may shortchange your ability to enact meaningful, permanent change to how your business operates. At Blue Cross, I’ve made it a priority for us streamline business processes to lower administrative costs. This is because our customers pay those costs, and they are all concerned about how much health care costs them. And I’ve directed my management teams to do it by finding ways to improve how we run our business. What’s resulted is extraordinary. Hundreds of projects – led by teams of people whose jobs are to manage all the countless processes that make our company work – have started to deliver improvements that cost us less money than before. These projects have been guided by a small team of continuous improvement experts to guide our people to make our processes leaner and strengthen our infrastructure to make it run at lower cost and with better outcomes. Ultimately, our teams are delivering value that will result in better member experiences and a lower operating cost at our company. A great example is the work of our Individual Business Unit and Information Technology teams who worked together to create a speedier, streamlined process to confirm enrollment of new members. Previously, it took more than two weeks for members to receive “Welcome Kits” mailed to their homes. But through a new digitized online process, we now deliver members important information about their plans within just four days, dramatically reducing confusion by quickly providing them up-to-date, accurate information about their benefits. The new process not only reduced the costs of mailing, printing, marketing – saving millions of dollars that help us to control costs -- but vastly improved our members’ experiences and will help reduce the number of calls from members with questions about their benefits. Members also can receive their new digital insurance cards sooner, giving them greater confidence earlier --- and making them feel protected – by having their health coverage quickly in hand. This change was the result of teams working together, discussing members’ pain points and striving to find a solution that leveraged new technology to create a better process to serve them. This is just one example of hundreds. And the result is that we are becoming better by the day. Better able to deliver the products and services our customer want, while keeping our administrative costs manageable. Better able to improve the experience our members have with us, while providing the security and peace of mind our brand of insurance has long given them.
Photo credit: Mike Miller