An Interview with John Goodall, Group Executive, Technology & Operations, Medibank
"In my experience across many industries, I’ve not come across a sector in more need of digital coordination like health. These challenges can only be overcome through collaboration between payers and providers, as well as the public and private sectors, to identify the best customer outcome."
FST Media: Walk us through Medibank's digital program for 2019. How is the company's digital strategy adapting to fast-evolving customer demands?
Goodall: Over the past three years, we’ve significantly improved our ‘MyMedibank’ digital experience – more than doubling our online registrations and usage of our app. This has clearly contributed to improving our customer experience, which is reflected in our Net Promoter Scores (NPS) – a tool used to gauge the quality of a business’s customer relationships – and increasing Medibank’s market share.
These improvements across our digital platform include a total UX redesign, application speed, additional services and better, more flexible functionality.
However, many Medibank customers still want a more personalised service (for example, face-to-face or telephone conversations about their health and wellbeing), so we’re acutely aware that we can’t focus solely on digital channels at the expense of our integrated retail store and contact centre experiences, which have also benefited from our digital investments, transforming the way we communicate, share, and make relevant information readily available, in real-time.
For 2019, we’ll continue challenging all aspects, including the performance and usability of our digital experience, rolling out more services and functionality onto the app, and making the experience as responsive, intuitive and personalised as possible – improving our omnichannel customer experiences.
FST Media: How important is digital technology in defining Medibank’s overarching business objectives?
Goodall: Our performance and progress are shared regularly with the Board, our investors, and our employees. This allows all areas of Medibank to get behind the strategy and support us to deliver these overarching business objectives.
I believe there are three areas where technology is essential to achieving this:
- We’ve committed to growing our health services brand, with every Medibank customer to have at least one meaningful health interaction with us each year by 2020. The bulk of these interactions will be delivered via technology. However, behind the scenes, the analytics and data platforms we use are critical, ensuring interactions are relevant, personalised, and deliver value to our customers.
- Our objectives include growing Medibank’s market share, delivering our brand promise, and creating advocates for our brand through great service delivery. Whether that’s buying or using your private health insurance, seeking advice on how to navigate the health system, or simply contacting a telehealth nurse, technology provides the operating platform and access to our full suite of products, processes, and services. As a business, we can’t achieve these objectives without a well-run, well-integrated, continuously evolving technology platform.
- Medibank has committed to achieving these business objectives while managing our cost base, ensuring we provide cost-effective products and services. A big part of our productivity program will be achieved through leveraging the full value of our technology platforms, and sensibly rationalising and consolidating our technology footprint.
FST Media: Cloud technologies have been a key facet of corporate IT for more than a decade. Do you feel local insurers are making effective use of cloud? How is Medibank utilising cloud to maximise its digital capabilities and, in effect, support its customers?
Goodall: In my opinion, cloud technologies – in the form of both software solutions and computing platforms – must form part of an effective, responsible, and scalable IT landscape.
Generally, I think insurers have been slower to adopt these technologies, partly because of a reliance on their large, complex, legacy platforms, as well as perceived risks and costs associated with the change. Even large platform providers now acknowledge that cloud should be part of a business’s core operating principles, as well as its interoperability. I can only see the adoption of and migration to cloud technologies accelerating over the coming years.
At Medibank, we’re well progressed on a significant IT transformation, with several cloud platforms forming part of the backbone of what we’ve built. Our digital channel, development and test environments, analytics platforms, and even parts of our security controls, leverage cloud technologies, ensuring we have the required flexibility and scalability needed to succeed.
FST Media: What defines a successful customer interaction with insurers in the digital era? Is there a common process or technology in the industry that you feel prevents insurers from meeting customers’ increasingly lofty expectations?
Goodall: Customer expectations of insurers don’t differ from most other products and services. Our customers expect to be able to research, purchase, and use our products online with ease, including seamless service and/or changes and updates to their policy. They expect to be able to leverage our services anywhere and at any time through the channel of their choice. They expect our digital experience to be fast, easy, and to not get in the way of their busy lives.
However, in health insurance, an obstacle for delivering this experience is the perceived complexity of products. In the past, there have been many variations available and a large amount of the Federal Government’s legislation defining what can and can’t be covered. Our team has worked on helping users better navigate the digital platform, allowing them to compare options and provide our customers with a clear understanding of their up-to-date financial limits as related to their extras products – through our MyMedibank app.
From 2019, health insurance will be further simplified and streamlined, giving customers a better understanding of their product or service. Medibank has begun the process of delivering on the next phase of the Federal Government’s reforms to private health insurance. We are committed to ensuring that our products comply with the reforms, which are designed to bring about greater standardisation and transparency across the industry.
Funds have until 1 April 2020 to adopt the Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic hospital cover categories for all products. In line with this, Medibank will be communicating with each customer before April 2020 to let them know what, if any, changes will be made to their level of cover.
FST Media: How important is cross-collaboration – potentially with industry rivals – in developing customer service innovations?
Goodall: Many of the challenges in health insurance, and the broader health industry, can only be resolved with much deeper collaboration across the industry.
The health industry is an incredibly complex, fragmented ecosystem. To provide the best service to customers, it must connect health providers (chemists, GPs, dentists, opticians, specialists, hospitals etc.) with payers (health insurers, Medicare, Worksafe, Department of Veterans’ Affairs etc.) across both public and private systems. Many parts of the ecosystem currently struggle to interact with other parts, making it very hard for customers to understand how it works, where to go, or what they will pay. It is an ecosystem that still encourages paper and fax machines.
In my experience across many industries, I’ve not come across a sector in more need of digital coordination like health. These challenges can only be overcome through collaboration between payers and providers, as well as the public and private sectors, to identify the best customer outcome.
FST Media: What professional challenges have you faced in your role as Group Executive, and what lessons can you offer to other digital leaders in getting the best out of your employees and your digital assets?
Goodall: Medibank is my first role in the health industry, and my biggest challenge when starting the role was getting up-to-speed on the sector and Medibank’s role.
Health is a complex and fragmented ecosystem. Medibank plays a significant role in that ecosystem, understanding the many moving parts and looking for ways to improve the system overall.
From a digital perspective, the health industry provides a huge opportunity to not only digitise products and services, but to also improve the lives of the people using them. At Medibank, we are relentlessly pursuing improvements for our customer experiences, through integrating our traditional face-to-face and voice channels, with digital automation, use of webchat and self-service options through our MyMedibank online and mobile app. Our customers are telling us that this is making a difference.
But we’re also learning at Medibank by being thoughtful, targeted, and by collaborating with others in the system to accelerate the difference we are making. ⬤
John Goodall will be a featured keynote presenter at the 2019 Future of Insurance conference in Sydney on the 7 March. Places are limited! Register now to secure your place.