I happened across an interesting article in Insurance & Technology. I&T interviewed a few tech-savvy CEO’s.

In one of the discussions, Ronald A. Williams, CEO and president of Aetna, discusses leveraging technology to “support the creation of a high-performance culture.”

The article states, “But technology isn’t just about convenience for Williams… It’s also been central to the company’s dramatic transformation into a profitable leader in the emerging consumer-directed healthcare (CDHC) market.”

The article goes on to quote Williams: “‘In 2005 we added one million new members, principally on the basis of the innovations we have developed using technology, and on the ability for us to integrate different components of the healthcare system — which has helped us lower medical costs and [provide] better quality…”

I find it interesting that, when you take a step back, using technology to create a high-performance culture is ‘news’ in the health and life space. Guess what — it’s old news in many other industries. Personally, my take on things is that in about 24 months, there will be those that mastered technology and business process automation and those that are now out of the business. It’s THAT important. “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.”

Notice how Williams immediately references adding new members because of tech innovations. And he doesn’t mention anything about adverse selection issues that so many health and life executives still fear albeit unnecessarily. In fact, if I could summarize Williams comments, it sounds like my motto — “better, faster, cheaper.”

Stuff I wish he had mentioned:

  • Best practices in rapid development of new systems and platforms
  • How long did things take to develop and mature?
  • How much did they cost?
  • How nimble are the platforms?
  • Who were the project sponsors — marketing, IT, operations?

Also note that Aetna has a huge IT department that can be leveraged towards innovation. What about the rest of the world? I guess that’s where IdeaStar comes in — as long as CIO’s are willing to step aside and facilitate rapid development.

Williams’ comments on Consumer-Driven Health Care reminds me of a conversation I had at the MedSupp conference in New Orleans with Gary Jacobs, President of CHCS. He is committed to CDHC and is focused on leveraging technology as a means of achieving that end. Anyone that knows anything about CHCS will agree that they are perfectly positioned to realize tremendous gains from CDHC. CHCS is also positioned to be a significant change-agent in the health and life CDHC space, perhaps even more significantly in the senior health and life space. Yet another voice in the health and life industry calling for more Web-based functionality for agents and consumers… The lead-in article summarizes things like this: “However, the state of technology and its influence on the state of the industry ensures that increasing numbers of CEOs are more deeply acquainted with the potential [I say POWER] of technology for their enterprise’s success, and [are] more aggressive in driving its use for competitive advantage.” (emphasis added)

To that I say “AMEN!”