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Great Customer Service a Good Goal for Health Plans

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media, April 9, 2014

A startup health plan draws its customer service approach from the Ritz-Carlton and L.L Bean. The call center answers by the third ring, and reps have authority and information to fix problems.

"Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves."—Steve Jobs

Consumers have emerged as the key players in a range of healthcare reform initiatives. Newly empowered individuals are widely viewed as a driving force for change, with federal regulators banking on informed patients to push for value in their dealings with healthcare providers and payers.

Successful health plans have seen the rise of the consumer on the horizon.

After J.D. Power and Associates released its consumer satisfaction ratings for health plans last month, I called a half dozen of the top performers in regions across the country to learn about their approaches. Overwhelmingly, they focus on good member experiences. These businesses "get it."

"The recognition Tufts Health Plan received from J.D. Power reflects our efforts to enhance the member experience, collaborate with providers, and support each other," James Roosevelt Jr., Tufts Health Plan's CEO, told me in an email. "This type of direct focus on taking care of the member is what makes the difference—it's the way we do business. This recognition is a terrific accomplishment."

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