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A letter to Amazon shareholders recently made the rounds on social media and caught the attention of many in the healthcare industry, including us here at InstaMed. In the letter, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, explains the company’s philosophy of treating every day like it’s the first day to always maintain the same level of excitement and commitment that was present when the company first started.

If you haven’t read the letter, it is well worth the read. In it, there are endless applications for healthcare organizations, especially for payers looking to drive member engagement. At a high-level, Bezos’s letter really boils down to how putting consumers first enabled the company to treat every day like the first, making Amazon the hugely successful company that it is today. The letter is best summed up by this excerpt:

“Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it…”

Amazon Prime was first introduced in 2005 and attracted 8 million users in the first five years. Now more than a decade later, one in four Americans is a Prime member – growing by 19 million in just the last year. It is important to note that these numbers may actually be an understatement as some households use one account for multiple people. (Source: Bloomberg Business, Will Amazon Kill FedEx)

The story of Amazon and the dawn of Prime membership is the perfect blueprint for payers to build a better member experience. Why? Because, just like Amazon, payers don’t have the opportunity to develop a face-to-face relationship with their members and must instead focus on the behind-the-scenes experience to build goodwill and trust.

Let’s be honest – member retention and satisfaction aren’t easy to come by. Members only reach out when they need something from their health plan. Many times that happens after a medical diagnosis that will significantly alter their future. Stress may be high and emotions are fraught from the start of those conversations with members.

What do members want to know? They have questions about specifics of their health plan such as what services are covered; which providers they can see; how much they owe; how do they pay. For the individual market, the demands on members are even higher, as members are managing their entire healthcare journey from end-to-end, and for some, it’s the first time that they’ve ever had that responsibility.

To every interaction with payers, members bring very high expectations from other industries. Amazon is the perfect example. Can your members manage their premiums like they do their Amazon shopping cart? Probably not even close. To that someone may say, healthcare is more complicated than shopping online. Unfortunately, your members don’t think it is. Data from the InstaMed Trends in Healthcare Payments Report proves this, too.

The point is that consumers never asked Jeff Bezos to create Amazon Prime. It simply answered their needs before they could even ask the question.

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