Platforms, people, and process — How Humana personalizes the healthcare consumer experience

Medical Healthcare Research and Development Concept. Image source: Adobe Stock/Summit Art Creations.

For many consumers, the healthcare journey elicits mixed emotions, including optimism, anxiety, and sometimes frustration. While addressing a medical condition can be stressful enough, many consumer emotions can be linked to the administrative processes they must navigate to receive care. According to McKinsey & Company, people consider getting coverage, understanding their benefits, finding care, and paying for treatments both extremely important yet deeply unsatisfying.

Fortunately, several trailblazers in the healthcare ecosystem are working to restructure these underlying processes to remove friction from healthcare marketing and the patient journey. Christopher Kienle, vice president of Marketing Technology & Data Platforms at Humana, is guiding the organization’s digital transformation using his passion for innovation and a “3 P’s” framework.

Image of Christopher Kienle.

Kienle is a customer experience professional through and through. With each stop in his professional journey, he has always viewed his responsibilities through the lens of the customer experience.

“No matter what position I’ve had or what role I’ve played on a team, everything I do is through the lens of the customer experience.”

Christopher Kienle, Vice President of Marketing Technology & Data Platforms at Humana

Recently, Kienle sat down with Adobe and shared his thoughts about personalization in healthcare and transforming the experience to make it customer-centric — all while keeping empathy in the equation.

What is your role, and what part in particular is most exciting to you?

I joined Humana in October 2022, and I currently lead the strategy, development, and evolution of the technology and data platforms that support Humana’s enterprise marketing functions.

A key Humana goal is to develop highly personalized, omnichannel communication experiences that make it easy for people to achieve their optimal health outcomes. We are currently in the middle of an exciting multi-year transformation initiative focused on what I like to call the “3 P’s” — platforms, people, and processes.

There’s a lot happening at once, and the change management aspects can be difficult to work through. But these are the kinds of challenges that get me excited to come to work every day.

I spent the first half of my career building and leading customer experience and digital platform design teams. Technology and data have finally evolved to a point where marketers can look at their work through the lens of the customer experience to deliver on the holy grail most companies desire — the ability to deliver the right messages at the right times, seamlessly connected across the customer’s preferred channels.

It’s the kind of transformation initiative that results in a better experience for both our consumers and our associates while also driving better business outcomes for Humana. It’s a big win for everyone involved. And while we’re not quite there yet, we have made significant strides toward achieving these goals.

What first pulled you toward a role in healthcare?

I’ve generally been drawn to companies whose missions are noble and resonate with me viscerally.

Having parents in their late 70s, and with me being no spring chicken myself, healthcare has become an increasingly important topic in my life. As an individual, most of my experiences to date with healthcare companies have generally been suboptimal. I’m certainly not alone with that opinion.

There’s so much room for innovation and disruption in this industry. And Humana is committed to leading the charge in pioneering better experiences and better health outcomes for our consumers.

Is there an emerging trend/technology within healthcare that excites you most? What do you think its impact will be?

I’m really interested to see what the next generation of wearables has to offer.

My wife wears an Apple Watch, and I wear a Fitbit. A friend of mine is working on a t-shirt prototype that can monitor your heart. There are smart rings for your fingers, virtual and augmented reality devices, and other emerging technologies to help people stay healthy.

It’s super exciting, but still feels like a very early stage. I’m hoping we’ll start to see a spike in innovation when it comes to healthcare and wearables as these technologies become more mature. There’s so much potential still to be unlocked in this space.

If you’re ready to start prioritizing personalized healthcare, read Guide to Marketing Personalization — Benefits, Examples, and More.

What surprised you most upon joining your current organization?

The healthcare industry is complex — needlessly complex in many ways. I’m a big believer that complexity fosters distrust between brands and consumers. This may be why most healthcare companies struggle to obtain high marks in many customer experience surveys.

Humana is a complex business itself, especially when you are new to the industry like I am. What has surprised me most is just how committed people are to breaking down this complexity — both for our external consumers and our internal associates.

Most large organizations I’ve worked with have tended to resist change, even if that change is intended to make something better or simpler. Humana’s executive leadership team has empowered everyone in the organization to break down silos, partner across business lines, share and collaborate more, and — most importantly — start with trust. It’s created an extremely healthy culture and vibrant work environment that produces optimal conditions for our associates to be successful.

Is there anything specific that you’re bringing from your out-of-industry experience to transform how your organization engages with customers?

I built my career as a customer experience professional first and foremost. No matter what position I’ve had or what role I’ve played on a team, everything I do is through the lens of the customer experience.

“Empathy above all” is one of my many mantras. My goal is to get everyone I can at Humana to think of their role through that same lens, regardless of whether their job is customer-facing or not. When you start with the customer and work back from there, like the most successful brands do, it can really change how you approach and do your job. And when you connect your associates and their work to how it contributes to better customer experiences and outcomes, the work becomes that much more rewarding.

How Adobe can help

The truth is that healthcare consumers want a personalized experience. Adobe’s suite of healthcare analytics and journey management tools allows you to deliver curated experiences to patients based on demographic data, behavior, and needs. With Adobe, a combination of powerful integrations, user-friendly applications, and a holistic approach to marketing will revolutionize the way you interact with healthcare consumers.

To learn more about how innovators, including Kienle, are using their marketing backgrounds to transform the healthcare industry, check out our eBook “Five Healthcare Changemakers on the Future of Healthcare Marketing.”