Using data to deliver personalised, affordable, convenient healthcare

President Richard di Benedetto explains Aetna International's digital transformation successes


The healthcare industry is no stranger to digital transformation. Providers are under constant pressure to reduce costs, improve outcomes, and deliver a personalised and convenient service. Effective use of technology and cognitive analytics are natural solutions. Richard di Benedetto, president of Aetna International, explains how the company uses data to create a personalised, affordable, convenient healthcare journey for its members.

European CEO: Richard, when did Aetna International begin its digital transformation journey, and how has it helped improve your services?

Richard di Benedetto: We started several years ago, but we started as the traditional health insurance. How can I pay your claim faster? How can I get you a faster letter of guarantee for your treatment?

But then we realised the power of technology, and more important: what the customer wants. The customer wants more personalised healthcare, more affordable healthcare, and even more important: convenient healthcare. And the power of technology helped us, not only to redesign our internal process, but map the customer journey and use the data to make it more personal, affordable, and convenient for our customers.

European CEO: Let’s take those three aspects in order then. First of all, personalising a healthcare journey. How are you using data in order to understand what customers need, and then providing them with those needs?

Richard di Benedetto: In yesterday’s world, we were using data coming from you going to hospitals or seeing your doctors. Today I can capture your data, for example, through a health risk assessment. What is important for you, from your healthcare? Your health goals are different from mine. And are different from a young woman who just gave birth to a child.

By knowing you personally, I can define a health goal for you. And I can embark you onto a journey to improve and connect you also with the healthcare systems during that journey.

European CEO: Let’s talk about the affordability aspect now; digital transformation is a lot about changing your internal processes in order to make these efficiencies possible. So, how have you achieved that, and what’s the outcome been?

Richard di Benedetto: Number one, you re-focus the organisation around the customer. And you re-focus your process around what are the benefits to the customer, and what the digital customer journey should be.

Traditional big companies are organised by silo. Product is here, service is here, care management is here. The customer doesn’t care about this. The customer cares about their health! The best treatment at the best time to the right place. So you need to really re-engineer your process along that customer journey, process by process.

So this is ongoing, and that is going to continue for years. Rethinking the organisation, the operating model, and how we look at our company.

European CEO: Give me some examples of the new digital health services that you’re offering to make life more convenient for your members.

Richard di Benedetto: Geography by geography, we have been building virtual health capability for our members. 24/7, GP or specialist consultations. You can get advice, you can get a diagnosis, you can get a prescription that we’ll deliver back to your home. You can have some analyses taken back home, like a blood test. We can connect you, if you need to see a specialist, or you need to go to hospital.

So we integrate this healthcare journey with the provider, for the benefit of our customers.

We have seen three benefits. The first one is that close to 70 percent of the members that did use virtual health capabilities did not want to see a doctor in a facility in the following 30 days. That’s a big benefit, and that’s a big cost saving for the system also.

Number two: members saved on average two hours’ time. You can take a consultation from your bedroom! Or with your child from your kitchen!

Number three: the satisfaction rate is extremely high. So that’s three positive elements that really excite us to go deeper in launching virtual health.

European CEO: Healthcare is about more than just clinical care; you’re also using digital to improve general wellbeing for your members. Tell me more.

Richard di Benedetto: So, 50 percent of people are qualified as ‘healthy.’ And they only consume six percent of total healthcare costs. So we need to keep you healthy. I need to keep you healthy, Paul! I need to keep Richard healthy, I need to keep my team healthy.

So how I keep you healthy is, back to data. You know, what is important for you on your health journey? I have my own health goal, I have a small hernia. Keep up with the hernia, no surgery, keep up with pilates, keep on extending your core. So make it personal and improve on your health.

But you have also two percent of the population that consumes 40 percent of healthcare costs. Some of them are severely chronic – but you can help them to follow their treatment. Do you have a refill for your medication? Are you compliant with your medications? Are you compliant with your diet? Can we check it?

We moved from: we finance health, to member health. By that journey, I think we can be the integrator between the payer, the employee, the consumer, the network; to integrate the health journey, with one measurement: how can I improve health outcomes, and how can I keep my member healthy?

European CEO: Richard: thank you very much.

Richard di Benedetto: It’s a pleasure to be here.