As the healthcare industry changes, health plan executives must master new skills. Here are six of them.
Related: The changing face of healthcare leadership
As consumers take a more active role in health plan selection and decision making, payers need to respond accordingly. That means they need to have a strong understanding of consumer behavior.
Looking to brush up your skills in this area? Managed Healthcare Executive Editorial Advisory Board Member Don Hall, principal at DeltaSigma, LLC, says health plan executives could learn a lot by looking at retail entities like Amazon.com and Disney, because of their high-touch consumer focus.
Health plan executives need to ensure that their plans offer what consumers want-and what many of them want is convenience and time-savings, such as the ability to see a physician via an e-visit rather than an in-office visit, when appropriate.
“The feeling among a lot of people today is they….want to be able to see a doctor within 15 to 20 minutes, and they want to get their diagnosis and pick up their prescription within an hour," says Hall. "Health plans need executives who can see the level of change that’s required to make that happen.”
As consumerism affects health plans more directly, leaders should have experience in a variety of areas, including sales, operations, and products, says Tim Frischmon, principal with Furst Group. He advises up-and-coming leaders to cultivate a "well-rounded" portfolio.
As payers evolve into larger conglomerates due to consolidation, these larger organizations will need leaders who can lead in an "increasingly matrixed environment," says Frischmon. “The challenge will be to keep employees focused on executing on [their work], despite all the noise going on about the expectations the outside world has about the mergers."
As companies grow due to consolidation, healthcare leaders at these companies will also need to brush up on soft skills, including the ability to understand and inspire people, says James Smith, senior vice president at The Camden Group. In addition, leaders may need to learn to (or improve their ability to) manage teams and team members remotely.
Rachel Sokol, senior consultant for the health plan advisory council within the Advisory Board Company's strategic research division, says health plan leaders may need to think more creatively when addressing key company problems.
“There have been big dynamic shifts within this industry," she says. Health insurance is a place that needs out-of-the-box ideas to figure out how to make all of this work, she says.