Dec 6, 2021
Cigna’s Chief Digital Officer: The Future of Health Care is Digital-First

Cigna’s new chief digital officer, Katya Andresen, has always been curious about people and what makes them tick. That curiosity fuels her passion for and commitment to cultivating a customer-centric digital experience in today’s market – where every digital engagement has the potential to inform the next. 

“To this day, I am still a passionate student of the human experience, especially when it comes to the people we serve here at Cigna and creating value for them,” Andresen said. “Building a great business and a great customer experience go hand in hand. And the key to building great customer experience is having an ongoing curiosity about the people behind the problems that you are seeking to solve. It’s that simple, and that hard.”

Shortly after joining Cigna in September 2021, Andresen sat down with Cigna’s Newsroom staff to discuss the role digital plays in reimagining the customer experience.

COVID-19 Has Been a Turning Point for Customers’ Expectations

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation within organizations across all industries. Almost overnight, business technology adoption skyrocketed to meet demands, consumer engagement with digital media shot up, and online shopping grew exponentially.

These digital consumer behaviors have permeated the health care experience as well. Before the pandemic, research finds that just over 1% of medical and behavioral doctor visits were conducted virtually. Today, they make up nearly 25%, with 58% of Americans saying they are comfortable with virtual consultations replacing in-person visits, especially if it is more convenient (47%), decreases their costs (44%), allows for free virtual follow-ups (37%), or enables long-distance care when out of area/traveling (35%).

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“Cigna has long believed that digital can allow us to reimagine and deliver experiences and business processes in powerful ways that are powered by our tech and data transformation,” Andresen said. “The pandemic was the equivalent of hitting the fast-forward button on the natural acceleration that was happening in digital, and forced companies to leap forward by years.”

With the new demand for virtual care and its acquisition of MDLIVE, Cigna is significantly expanding access to covered virtual care services for millions of customers. Customers will be able to access primary, dermatology, behavioral, and urgent care services via their computers or smart devices. Meanwhile, as MDLIVE physicians join Cigna’s group of collaborative care providers, their access to patients’ health information will create a more connected, coordinated health care experience – powered by digital.

The beauty of digital, Andresen says, is that it gives companies more data, which can be used for more intelligent decision-making through approaches like predictive analysis and proactive, personalized, and real-time experiences.

“As massive amounts of data come in from the increase in digital experiences, including wearables and other devices, it’s exciting to think about the opportunities in receiving, analyzing, and responding to that data for more coordinated and seamless care,” she said.

Digital Transformation in Health Care: Customer-Centric People, Processes, and Technology

Andresen believes we’re in a pivotal moment in the health care space. As consumer brands, tech companies, and startups continue to raise the bar for customer experience expectations, it’s essential that health care keeps up.

“To meet those heightened expectations, we need the right talent, the right ways of working, and the data and technical capabilities to deliver and measure customer experiences,” Andresen said. “That means we need to start thinking about digital differently. It cannot just be a reflection of where we have been; taking offline experiences and digitalizing them. It needs to instead be seen as a driver of where we are going. We need to think digital-first and customer-first.”

There are, of course, challenges to reaching that point. Until recently, most of the changes in digital have been enhancements to the analog status quo. Digital has been treated as an add-on.

With Andresen at the digital helm, Cigna is keenly focused on accelerating beyond that, using a digital-first mindset to better serve our customers, employees, clients, and communities.

“In health care, digital used to be seen as an enablement channel, supporting key parts of the business like marketing and servicing,” she said. “Now we are moving into a phase of digital differentiation: integrated, scalable digital experiences that are going to drive our business model and provide customer value.”

On a Journey Toward Digital Disruption

Cigna is on a journey to become a “digital disruptor,” Andresen said, where technology will give our company a durable and sustainable competitive advantage. She sees potential in digital helping Cigna develop completely new business models backed by data and intelligence.

“We have the opportunity to unlock life-changing value for our customers,” she said.

Andresen notes that one key area of impact will be care coordination.

“The benefit of all the digital enhancements that have been developed is the data that they produce,” she said. “By leveraging this data, we can create new predictive and innovative care solutions while making the patient experience more seamless, easier, and convenient. Through coordinated care, we are able to deliberately organize and share patient health information across our network of providers to ultimately achieve safer and more effective, holistic, and personalized care.”

In the past, the industry only had tools to be responsive, Andresen said. Digital transformation is equipping organizations not only to move to a proactive model of care, but to accelerate into a predictive model of care that provides preventive care and real-time health alerts.

This digital transformation is opening the doors for new opportunities across specialty pharmacy by optimizing Cigna's networks to make medication more affordable, especially for people with chronic conditions. This is increasingly important, as the majority of new medications coming to the market are specialty drugs.

“We’re using the foundation established through coordinated care to provide more precise, predictive interventions and management solutions. Through digital technology acceleration, we can track medication use and refill patterns against any identified gaps in care,” she said. As a result, we can alert patients, providing support or recommendations, which will ultimately reduce emergency room visits and unnecessary associated costs and improve the health and well-being of those we serve.

As we sit at an inflection point for health care, Andresen believes the future remains bright. Through human-centered design and data-driven insights, digital has the power to drive more affordable care and better outcomes while transforming the customer experience for the better.

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This exclusive research identifies the top three priorities for consumers and benefit decision makers.

Get the report