Health Plans Step Into Retail Operations

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , November 8, 2011

Biehn explained that Blue Shield will be looking at a number of factors in determining if the one-year pilot can be scaled and expanded. "Of course we'll be looking at utilization. We'll also look at the level of customer engagement meaning are they buying our products. And we'll see if the store helps us develop efficiencies in resolving issues and answering questions. Other metrics will include the level of increased advocacy for the company and increased customer satisfaction with our services."

Rittman says the retail centers will help health insurers compete against a host of new competitors in the health insurance marketplace. Already insurers are facing a new form of healthcare service distribution from Target and Walgreens, which offer an a la carte menu of medical services such as flu shots or basic primary care through in-store health clinics.

She notes that the health insurance industry today faces many of the same challenges as the banking industry did 10 or 15 years ago when its business model shifted. "Banks began to really understand their customer's behavior so everything they did with their business model was designed to appeal to those behaviors and drive the best results. For health insurers that will translate not just into financial viability, but also into improvement in the health of their members."

Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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