Neal Sofian, Director of Member Engagement, Premera Blue Cross
What are your predictions for healthcare payments in 2017?
I always keep an eye out for the latest healthcare innovations, and I suspect 2017 will become ever more that, “it’s all about me.” We will demand more personal treatment and that will bring us new and even better technology to simplify healthcare payments. It may be a new year, but the pain points of healthcare payments remain the same: too much paper, a poor consumer-experience, lack of integration and increased exposure to security threats. The upside of slogging through the same problems makes it crystal clear what we need to be improving. I’m looking forward to seeing the new solutions our leading healthcare payment innovators produce throughout the year.
What do you consider to be the biggest achievement for the healthcare payments industry in recent years?
We are finally getting clear. Consumers are becoming more invested in their healthcare decisions. They are beginning to realize the importance of understanding what their coverage is, what their options are and what they owe when they use care. Healthcare organizations have begun to realize that clarity and simplicity in the healthcare payments process benefits everyone and will become a requirement to play in the future. Consumers don’t call all the shots in healthcare but they will demand we simplify the end-to-end payments experience.
What do you think is currently the biggest challenge to simplifying healthcare payments?
Speaking from one payer’s point-of-view, I think the biggest challenge is the sheer length of the laundry list of goals we want to accomplish in a given year. It’s easy to deprioritize projects that might improve the member experience or streamline an administrative process when there are other burning platforms. But as we finally understand what it means to be consumer-centric, we will realize this is one of the burning platforms.
If you could change one thing about the way your organization handles the healthcare payments process today, what would it be?
Make it so easy and clear that you don’t need to even pay attention to it, other than when we intentionally use payments to nudge members into “smart” care choices and can do it in a way they will appreciate.
Have you been to Philadelphia before?
Many times. I love the city of Brotherly Love and have since 1964 when my Cardinals caught the Phillies and won the National League Pennant and went on to beat the Yankees in 7.
What’s your favorite thing about the city?
Going to the Reading Terminal Market.
What are you most looking forward to at the InstaMed User Conference 2017?
This is a rare opportunity to talk with healthcare providers and other payers exclusively about healthcare payments. While our day-to-day might be different from healthcare providers’, we’re all in the business of healthcare, and a lot of our goals need to align better than they currently do. I’m also excited to see what InstaMed has cooking up in the Innovation Lab.
Wiz wit or wiz witout?