Q: What do you think is most important to members in terms of their digital interactions with Kaiser Permanente?
SM: At the most basic level, you need simplicity and transactional convenience across every experience. However, one of the things that is so different at Kaiser Permanente is our model of care and coverage together. That model is our differentiator. We need to bring it to life by creating experiences that are seamless and frictionless across all our touchpoints and channels. We can provide the member with value that they may not even know to ask for. This gives us a competitive advantage and why we are so different.
Q: Can you share a little about some of the initiatives you are currently working on to improve the digital healthcare experience for Kaiser Permanente members?
SM: What is exciting for me is figuring out how to help our members and patients find the right channel of care. Understanding their unique needs—their coverage, where they’re located, who they are caring for—and helping them find the best way to meet their care needs in a way that’s personal for them. It is what the patient is most comfortable with and what fits into their life on their terms. Bringing and extending access to care is probably one of the most important things we’re doing at Kaiser Permanente.
Q: What do you believe most health organizations struggle with in delivering a seamless digital experience?
SM: It’s not just in healthcare. Some companies tend to digitize what they do today. And that means doing things the same, potentially siloed, like they always have. To deliver a frictionless experience, we need to think beyond just digitizing the touchpoint. We must consider the context—that is what makes digital seamless. We are expanding our view of individuals beyond discreet events to everything that is happening in their lives. It’s a challenge. We’re not there yet, but it is our focus to have digitally enabled experiences that are deeply engaging, contextual and seamless.
Q: With digital evolving so fast, how does your organization keep pace with the changes across channels and member/customer expectations? What are some of the main challenges?
SM: In my mind, there are two aspects to this question. The first relates to the pace of change. You can’t make plans several years in advance and expect that nothing is going to change. The world is moving at a faster rate than ever before and to adapt, Kaiser Permanente has invested in creating competency and capability. Our focus is not on a list of specific things or a roadmap of what’s going to differentiate us (although that is certainly part of our work). We have been focused on the competencies we need to build—including skills and processes, as well as the technology and platforms we need to implement to move quickly and with agility. These are all critical for us to be responsive.
Second, you have to know what your consumers are thinking and if you are meeting their needs. By embedding consumer empathy and research into our work, we can understand how people are reacting to things. We’re not just talking to people (which is absolutely critical). We’re also measuring things. That requires technology. People don’t always tell you what they want, they show you. We are building that in. We must be able to look holistically across all touchpoints. But with that, there are many challenges—data, legacy systems, culture change.
Q: Digital marketing and member engagement have certainly evolved very quickly. What do you believe are some of the most exciting new opportunities in digital marketing and member engagement?
SM: We no longer have a one-way push/pull interaction with consumers. It’s an ongoing two-way dialogue with multiple threads that are crossing over and around each other. We have moved from a traditional episode-based model to a very different dynamic that involves an ongoing conversation about total health. Because the digital platform and consumer expectations and behaviors have evolved, we can now solve problems from a channel agnostic, longer-term perspective. We have a way to link and build on conversations in the consumer’s preferred channel, and across channels. And it’s all connected. We want to leverage this to drive deeper, more meaningful engagements that help members get what they need done in the moment but using that moment to also anticipate and curate information that is more relevant to them that will keep the interaction going. We are engaging in a very different kind of relationship and the potential is truly exciting.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
SM: There are two primary reasons why I took this job. First, the positive impact that we can truly have on people’s lives. This is tied to Kaiser Permanente’s mission to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. The opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives is unlike any company I’ve ever worked for. Second, breaking down silos between the physical and digital spaces. What excites me is how digital is driving the new consumer experience across channels and touchpoints.
Q: I see you are a certified accountant. How does that inform your work?
SM: Understanding the consumer digital experience is all about the numbers. We want to bring value to our patients, members and consumers through our digital offerings, and value always gets translated into measurement. I am passionate in this area and rigorously apply the OGSM framework, which includes objectives, goals, strategies and measures. It helps to put data at the center of how we think about, deliver and evaluate the experiences we build. With my accounting background, I am constantly trying to answer the questions, “How do we know that people actually like it?” and, “What do we have to do to bring more value?” Translating consumer behavior into different key performance indicators helps determine how to continually optimize. No one can predict the future—whether or not people are going to like certain features and capabilities. You need to try new things, measure, optimize and iterate on a continuous basis. The numbers are critical.
Q: What do you like to do outside of work? Do you have any special hobbies or interests?
SM: At this point in my life, if it doesn’t have to do with work, it has to do with my family, particularly my two daughters who are highly involved in soccer and horseback riding, among other things. In addition, I have a history of being involved with organizations that support children, such as the Make A Wish Foundation for which I served on the Board of Directors. I was also treasurer for an organization in New York City that supports homeless children and have provided tutoring/mentoring services for several organizations on the East Coast. Finally, I love dogs and have been known to rescue a few strays along the way.