Hey, sorry for the gap in postings…seems like forever since that golf outing with Nationwide. In the meantime, I had my laptop stolen out of my car in New York City, took this trip to S.F. and played 100 holes of golf in one day! But I’m back in full-swing (!) and looking forward to PIMA MarkeTTech next week, SILA on 10/15-18, and AMBest E-Fusion Conference in Boston on 10/23-24.

Last week I helped with the 6th Conference on New Product Development for Health Plans in San Francisco. What a great experience!

China town (picture taken using Treo PDA) & Trans Am Building from a very high hill

I ran a morning workshop focused on new product development specifically for Web distribution. My plan was to just facilitate the meeting. I figured while I have some information to share, the 10 attendees would have even more. And as it turned out, that is exactly what happened.

One of the guys in the class was the creative mind behind one of the most successful online insurance products in recent history, Wellpoint’s “Tonik”. So we spent most of the class picking his brain. We came up with four really good points:

  1. Online products really need a special plan design to maximize Web ROI.
  2. Strong executive leadership must make the Web development project top priority.
  3. Strong project leadership is critical as well. For example, one workshop’er spoke about how they were on a tight deadline. In one meeting, a team member was pushing back. The project manager said “I don’t think you are supporting the project. Please leave the room now.” That’s strong project leadership.
  4. The ‘presentation’ on the Web needs to be customized to fit the target audience.

Another point brought up during the class was a general frustration with in-house IT departments. I say Amen to that. Class members complained that internal IT departments come up with horrible Web sites. In general, they are slowing down Web-utilization across the whole health care industry.

I showed some of the work IdeaStar has done, including our most recent A.M. Best E-Fusion Finalist Award winner, Community Care Rx. I encouraged them to attend E-Fusion as a great place to gather ideas.

At least one thing was clear when everybody left the class. The sooner carriers begin aggressively developing and marketing products on line, whether leveraging agents or direct-to-consumer, the sooner the carriers will master the art. Outsource!