Pay For Full Service

In several industries (e.g., travel), you pay when you access a customer service representative.  That forces you to use the self-service options of the Internet and/or the automated call line.  Could this work in healthcare?

I doubt that people would be so directive as to penalize people for talking to a representative or a clinical person especially on such a sensitive and personal a topic as healthcare.

BUT, on the other hand, a disproportionate amount of calls are for mundane issues or questions would could be solved using other channels.  The fact is that these channels have to be efficient and easy to navigate (which they aren’t always today).  But, technology continues to become more ubiquitous so it’s not unreasonable to expect people to self-service more often.

One idea that I tried to sell years ago at Express Scripts was more around incentives for self-service.  Why not offer large employers a discount if their use of the call center decreased?  They have some opportunities to influence this.  They could put a link to the website on their intranet.  They could leverage their e-mail network to push out messaging.  They could encourage people to use the PBM (or health plan) website.

On thing that several CFOs told me years ago was that they would frame the problem differently for their employees.  It wasn’t  about just saving money to reduce cost, but it was about re-directing funds to cover more things.  For example, one company had to cut $10M in expenses.  They were looking at plan designs to accomplish some of that.  But, they also thought they were going to have cut on-site daycare.  We looked at one strategy that might save them $15M so they could achieve their savings and actually grow both the daycare program and their 401K matching program. 

What great positioning to the employees!  Here are two things we are going to give you…all you have to do is help us shift costs from point A to point B by taking the following actions.

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