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Rapid and customer-oriented innovation might be second nature to startups, but for the majority of businesses, fostering such thinking needs both a commitment to change and a cultural reset.
It’s this desire to bring entrepreneurship in-house that has seen general manager of Australian Unity’s private health insurance group, Natalie Vogel, kickstart an innovation program based on lean principles that is now gaining significant traction across the organisation.
Vogel has spent the last nine years with Australian Unity, firstly in marketing and for the past four years overseeing the private health insurance business including marketing, communications, channel management, call centre operations, sales and service, digital, products and P&L.
In the last two years, Vogel has focused on introducing an internal innovation infrastructure and new techniques to change the way her division thinks about products for its customers. The innovation effort kicked off in Vogel’s division with the support of Australian Unity’s healthcare CEO.
Recent government legislative changes to healthcare rebates and means testing has exacerbated paint points around affordability and complexity, Vogel said, as well as potentially alienated younger customers. Vogel said getting lean methodologies off the ground was arguably easier for Australian Unity because it is small enough to get things done quickly, but big enough to have the resources to support new initiatives.
The first step towards lean was commissioning people to lead the charge, taking them out of their jobs and setting up an area internally to drive the new innovation agenda. A core change has been bringing consumers in at the beginning of the innovation process, as well as producing minimum viable products (MVP). There have been plenty of teething problems, ranging from getting the right capability, to ensuring people understand culturally that it’s about doing things differently, and sourcing expertise in MVP testing and how to do experiments, Vogel said.


The steepest learning curve for Australian Unity was around experimenting and embracing the concept of MVP. It’s not enough to just take up lean principles; you have to be transparent and share the failures as well as successes along the way. In this example, Vogel said the team had tried to create an adjacent product to sit alongside its private health insurance products and got it wrong – consumers didn’t buy it. According to Vogel, selling the new innovation methodology to the group MD and board was not difficult given their familiarity with consumer pain points across the health insurance category.
For Vogel, modern innovation requires resilience, an ability to shift your mindset quickly onto something else, and a great respect for the customer. Your dedicated source of information for the latest and most relevant leadership and technology challenges faced by the modern chief marketing officer. Content marketing: It’s everywhere you look, and it’s a proven component of an effective marketing strategy.
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A Medibank and NIB offer some of the worst of the "junk" health insurance policies on the market, providing little more than what is already offered under the universal healthcare scheme Medicare, say consumer advocates. John Grech had been paying private health insurance premiums for 20 years when his doctor told him he needed to be assessed for surgery. As the federal government reviews the $19 billion private health insurance sector, leading consumer group Choice has rated Medibank's 'Young Hospital' and 'Accident Only' covers as "effectively useless" and likely to leave customers in the lurch."Our analysis shows that in many cases, junk policies cover less than one per cent of the services available in hospital, and exclude treatment for the most common serious illnesses such as cancer, stroke and heart disease," said Choice's Tom Godfrey.
The ultimate ambition is to create a culture of ‘intrepreneurship’ inside Australian Unity.
Having defined Retail Fund as more of a challenger brand, Vogel said she’d always been interested and inspired by challenger approaches and techniques.
What customers say about what they’re going to do is very different to what they actually do, and using that insight to help understand that research will just tell you what they do and don’t like.


In addition, strong relationships maintained across the executive team, including with the CEO, has helped provide the trust needed for change to occur.
Australian Unity also recruited innovation champions from across the healthcare business, and invested in an innovation manager. Vogel said its ambition is to reduce product launches from a six-month process to a few weeks.
Traditionally, the more senior you are, the more you trust your instincts, because you’ve got a good vibe on something. You need time, and the buy-in of executive teams, but it’s not like you’re asking for tens of millions of dollars,” she pointed out. Although she’s yet to see one of these ideas disrupt the business, Vogel said the culture of innovation it inspires is already permeating the organisation.
And yet more than half of all marketing professionals struggle with a lack of internal content creation resources.
These include HCF's 'Accident Hospital Only' and Medibank's 'Accident Only' covers.More than half a million Australians downgraded or dumped their all-inclusive health insurance policies in 2014-15, alarming government, medical and consumer bodies. The surcharge is payable after income exceeds $90,000 for singles and $180,000 for couples.
Research might tell you they have those opinions and mean them in the moment, but when it comes to translating into actual purchases, they do something quite different or that’s irrational.
But lean requires you to stand back and let consumers decide, the data tells me what to do.
As demand grows, health funds are increasing policy limitations and exclusions, leaving patients with massive out-of-pocket expenses in their time of need.The Australian Medical Association has backed Choice's call for the government to reconsider the eligibility of junk insurance policies for the Private Health Insurance Rebate or exemption from the Medicare Levy Surcharge and the Lifetime Health Cover Surcharge. The average cost of combined hospital and extras cover is expected to exceed $5000 for the first time for couples and families, forcing more consumers to reassess and search for more affordable cover. That spoke for itself in terms of logic and is on trend with helping consumers feel they are making a choice. Our obligation is to provide them with the information necessary to make a decision," she said."People being able to take out cover they deem appropriate is good for the entire private health insurance system.



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31.10.2015 admin



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