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The Voice of Healthcare - Episode 13

Co-hosts: Dr. Matt Cybulsky (Principal, Ionia) and Bradley Metrock (CEO, Score Publishing)

Guest: Devin Nadar (Partnerships Manager, Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator, Boston Children's Hospital)

Duration: 27 minutes, 37 seconds

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Bradley Metrock: [00:00:14] Hi and welcome back to The Voice of Healthcare, Episode 12 for June, 2018. My name is Bradley Metrock - I'm CEO of a company called Score Publishing based here in Nashville, Tennessee. My co-host on The Voice of Healthcare is Dr. Matt Cybulsky. Matt, say hello.


Matt Cybulsky: [00:00:36] Hello everyone, the World and I'm really excited about today's guests. It's going to be a really bright conversation, Bradley. Good to be here.


Bradley Metrock: [00:00:44] This is going to be phenomenal. Our guest today is Rowena Track of Cigna. Rowena, say hello.


Rowena Track: [00:00:52] Hello everyone. I'm very excited to being part of this episode.


Bradley Metrock: [00:00:57] Rowena we're honored to have you. So you are Global Vice President Digital Channel and Partner Marketing for Cigna. Share with us a little bit just right off the top about your role with Cigna and how you got into that role with Cigna.


Rowena Track: [00:01:17] Sure, thank you Bradley. I'm currently, as Bradley said, the Global Vice President of Digital Channel and Partner Marketing at Cigna. Under my responsibility are all things digital, including also expanding our channels of reach and partnering globally with innovators who could help Cigna build its brand and expand its reach to its customers. Prior to Cigna and for the past two decades I have helped companies innovate, modernize, and digitize and I can call the past two decades as two decades of digital disruption. I helped companies like Bayer Healthcare, TIAA-CREF Financial Services, Citi Bank, TE Connectivity and now Cigna. And my career had been at the intersection of business strategy, marketing the different transformation and technology innovation.


Bradley Metrock: [00:02:18] Very cool. You've had a busy last couple of decades. We are honored to have you as well joining us, and I'd be remiss not to mention the Voice of Healthcare Summit which takes place Tuesday, August 7th on the campus of Harvard Medical School. If you're looking for information about that you can go to and Rowena Track will be keynoting the Voice of Healthcare Summit for us which will be incredible. Rowena has championed Answers by Cigna, which is a really neat Alexa skill and voice experience that Cigna has put together. Rowena, walk us through what Answers by Cigna does and sort of share with us the backstory. How did this come about within Cigna?


Rowena Track: [00:03:06] Right. So, Brad, as I have mentioned I've been for two decades now in this digital space and very briefly if we go through these past two decades first in the late 90s and 2000 we had companies building their websites. Then search engine optimization and search engine marketing became critical marketing tactics. Now shortly after social media arrived on the scene and brands started investing in social activation, and then of course mobile taking a huge role in brand moments and brand engagement. Most recently, and right now if you fast forward to 2017 and 2018, companies and brands are looking into artificial intelligence and voice as brand moments. And us at Cigna feel the same way that voice is natural. Everyone is born with their voice. It's frictionless, interaction with the customers. It makes interactions easy and therefore it was a natural choice for us to use voice activation to engage our customers in a simple, easy, and natural way.


Bradley Metrock: [00:04:17] Amazon has really played a big role in marketing that. I've seen that listed on their site, the Alexa Skills Marketplace quite a bit. You know they've helped sort of raise the awareness of it some themselves which I think is really cool. Can you share with us any takeaways that you have from Answers by Cigna at this point? Obviously it's young. It's just sort of come out of the gate and you've got a lot more learning to do with how patients are interacting with it or how the customer is interacting with it. What can you share with us so far about anything that you've learned since its launch?


Rowena Track: [00:04:55] Answers by Cigna is to demystify healthcare. You know there is a lot of jargon in healthcare and you'll be surprised how the average person, they don't understand certain basic things of what that means, you know what's in-network, out-of-network, and deductibles, etc. So we thought that we can build this process by Cigna, a voice activation tool to demystify healthcare. And we started by having 250 terms, healthcare terms, explaining them and helping people understand them better. And our commitment is to build on that. So we're expanding those 250 words, phrases to 400. We'll be launching that in June. And so far we have about four thousand active participants engaged with this voice tool. Our intent really was to enter into this space, test and learn, and experiment on what does it means to have a voice activation platform because it's really all very new. And our commitment actually to artificial intelligence and modernizing marketing and engaging our customers have led us to participate in voice.


Rowena Track: [00:06:15] It is an experimental tool for us and it's part of our commitment more for the broader artificial intelligence roadmap. What we have learned is that customers are engaged. I can't say that its part of their daily life right now, but our goal is to make it a really simple and easy choice for them to have answers for healthcare and answers back that they don't understand or are not readily available at their fingertips.


Bradley Metrock: [00:06:51] So Rowena, you've been around technology your entire career and what you've done with Answers by Cigna is just the icing on the cake. And Answers by Cigna is very specific and you just described it really well, it's an experimental sort of interface that y'all are learning about and how the customer will interact with it. But more broadly, I want to sort of step back a minute, more broadly given your background in technology and your interest in technology and innovation either with voice technology and voice-first technology or perhaps with the underlying artificial intelligence, share with us whatever it is that most captivates you about the potential for either voice or AI or both together impacting the future of healthcare.


Rowena Track: [00:07:47] I think artificial intelligence and voice if leveraged correctly will make a complex simple, whether it's for healthcare or for other industries. I believe if the revolution arise with mass models over the next three to five years and brands need to be ready for that. And our Answers by Cigna are a first steps in that direction. There are many projections on where AI and voice will be. I think that voice technology will be embedded in almost everything you do, and this is not that far into the future.


Rowena Track: [00:08:23] I think the average person will have more conversations with chatbots and virtual assistants than they do have with their family and friends. and we're seeing some of that with social media, you know how engagement with social media, with friends, and families have really picked up, and artificial intelligence is really broad. I think a floor map has four pillars. There's biometric and behavior identity and with cyber security at heightened priority, I think people and companies who are investing into these technologies need to scale up on their biometric and behavior identities to protect from cyber attacks.


Rowena Track: [00:09:05] The second pillar will be device integration like in the Internet of Things, devices, talking to devices, and we're already seeing some of that in terms of remote monitoring if you have diabetes - you have your device embedded in you and then already communicating over the cloud to other devices to keep you healthy and to keep your sugar levels normal. The third pillar is of methodology and avatars. And last but not least, the fourth pillar is cognitive health and death analysis. So you can see that the road map to really master artificial intelligence and voice has four main pillars and smart companies need to invest in these pillars together simultaneously to achieve the goal of bringing anything that's complex simple.


Matt Cybulsky: [00:10:05] Rowena, that's an excellent summation of four pillars to focus on as technology starts to roll out and become more part of the day to day for everyone. I find that statistic also fascinating, that as time goes on within the three to five year time span conversations that we'll have openly with chatbots, as well as other people through voice and activating tools all around us using our voice, it's only going to increase. I find that fascinating obviously. I found myself involved in this field and this study largely because of the acceleration of these tools. You said something interesting a moment ago that I wanted you to address with our audience. I'll start that off by saying you mentioned that healthcare can be very jargony, but also it can be complicated to folks that aren't intimately involved in the business of healthcare. And that makes sense; it's not a traditional supply and demand market as you are very well aware as a leader within Cigna. There's a third party vector and influence upon the economies for healthcare. And I think that's where my question to you begins which is, if you were to zoom out the lens a little bit, why insurance, why a coverage provider like Cigna? What's the benefit to us all, to patients, to communities that a company like Cigna is offering by promoting and developing and leveraging these tools?


Rowena Track: [00:11:52] Right. I think like I said healthcare is complex and I tend think about the 2 players in healthcare as the patient provider and the payer. So there's the patient, the healthcare provider and there are the insurance companies who are the payers. And I think taking the friction out of the interaction among these key players will reduce costs, will make healthcare more affordable, and will make patients more engaged with their providers, and payers become part of the background. So we really don't want to make this about us as an insurance company. Our goal is to make the patient provider relationship frictionless and provide the tools and the resources to enable that. And I think that voice and educating and engaging customers through voice, and eventually the providers, will help with simplifying and ultimately making healthcare more affordable.


Matt Cybulsky: [00:13:00] Yes, I totally agree with that. I think that one of the themes that I write about, speak about regularly, is the advent of this technology as high level as it is actually allows it to get out of our way and reconnect to another human in ways that we sort of lost behind the screen and the keyboard. To me that's quite exciting. Of course I have a lot of bias because a lot of the places that I'm going, speaking, and collaborating with other physicians they already have that bias themselves and are interested in being a part of it. I will contend that I have found some caregivers threatened a bit by the idea that this technology is almost like a filter before it gets towards them, meaning patients, can benefit from the centuries of medical practice that historically have been in important ways recorded so that it can be leveraged without a human intervention like a physician. What would you say if you were in a room of physicians who were skeptical of using this for the well-being of their patients? How would you describe the benefit to them as a means for their own optimization of care to their patient panels?


Rowena Track: [00:14:25] I think that my new message is embrace it because there are technology giants right now globally who are investing significantly in healthcare. It's really the end with disability. It's inevitable that technology is going to be part of everything we believe. So you have companies like Alibaba in China, and Google, and Facebook, and Amazon, eBay and Apple. These are some of many technology giants who are giving money to the business ecosystem of companies. I really think smart companies embrace innovation and technology and try to partner with one or more or many of these global giants for the benefit of mankind because I think the movement is irreversible. You can't ignore it, you cannot like it, but my message to physicians is embrace it because you know that your patients are living in a massive digital ecosystem that in my view is irreversible. So that is a huge compelling reason now to embrace innovation and digitization of healthcare because like I said it's inevitable and I think it's irreversible.


Matt Cybulsky: [00:16:03] Oh yes, I couldn't agree more. I feel this way about most technologies that have occurred in healthcare during my professional career, but also beforehand. Just like other naturalistic fallacies, new technology comes with a group of people with their hands in the air saying this is the end, we are now diminished, and we're headed towards a really terrible place. I tend to disagree with that, it thinks humans are much more innovative than that, much more careful than that, especially with an industry like healthcare that is essential not only to your personal well-being to keep it strong, but also to economic well-being globally. The healthier people are, the less sort of desperation they feel, but also the more productive they become, and the more they can connect to other people or offer value to their fellow men and women, even if it's not necessarily a monetary value. So I think I would echo the same as you to physicians, to embrace the technology and run with it.


Matt Cybulsky: [00:17:11] One of the things that I tend to focus on similar to what you mentioned a moment ago, the shortage that we're going to be seeing of practitioners into the future tends to benefit a tool like this especially with the advent of AI. One physician can take care of more people because of this tool I think becomes really strong. Are there any sort of, of course there are, but what are the barriers do you think to us becoming more fluid with the care leverage with voice and AI tools as the technology develops and becomes more mainstream?


Rowena Track: [00:17:50] I think it's up to companies like Cigna. Some physicians are more innovative than others. I think the barrier is first of all I think to accept that this will not replace physicians. Technology, if you look historically when the computer came, people felt that it was going to replace people. But it added more productivity, it added more like globally more productive, more efficient. I think leveraging technology and innovation is not going to replace people, but it's going to make peoples jobs different. And perhaps one of the barriers is really the mindset that maybe this is going to replace our job or part of our job.


Rowena Track: [00:18:40] I will give you an example. You mentioned surgeon - you could find better health with a physician, with a surgeon in another part of the world if you're in the middle of this surgery and I know that head of hospitals they do that. If you're in surgery and you want the opinion or the participation of someone who's from another part of the world who might be more of an expert. AI and technology and innovation can help you find better health and you know digitize the operation like nothing that has happened in the past. So I think if we think about this innovatively and as a way to enhance our service offering and to engage, I think that would be the winning attitude.


Rowena Track: [00:19:33] What is a barrier? In certain ways technology is not 100 percent there, and voice is not 100 percent where we want it to be, but companies like Cigna said we need to experiment, we need to pioneer use of pilots so that when technology advances beyond what it is now we're ready to leverage it, and that's what we've done with Answers by Cigna.


Matt Cybulsky: [00:19:58] Yes, that's a thoughtful reply. I appreciate you digging in there with me on that. What does this advent of technology, as far as casting a net over more people due to things like reimbursement, contracts, and revenue for healthcare?


Rowena Track: [00:20:16] I'm going to introduce another technical word which is blockchain. Blockchain is one way to really simplify the operational aspects of healthcare. Financial services have worked with blockchain to simplify transactions and payments, and transactions and interactions. I really think the future of blockchain for healthcare could simplify reimbursements, could simplify and automate some of the operational aspects of healthcare. That's one part of my answer.


Rowena Track: [00:20:56] The second part is that we tend to think of healthcare and companies like Cigna and other traditional players, Cigna, Anthem, Aetna, United, etc., but there is the full set of new companies that are redefining how healthcare works, and how it works that's happened and how contracts are done, and they are funded by venture capitalists, venture capital forums who believe that the way healthcare is could really be redefined.


Bradley Metrock: [00:21:36] Rowena, we appreciate you joining us today, your answers, your intellect, your insight, Cigna's very lucky to have you. I'm really looking forward to you keynoting the Voice of Healthcare Summit, Tuesday, August 7th in Boston at Harvard Medical School. It's going to be awesome. Thank you for that, thank you for this, thank you for being part of everything with us.


Matt Cybulsky: [00:21:58] Yes, I'm going to echo Bradley on that, bright discussion today and we're really excited about seeing you in Boston and listening to your keynote.


Rowena Track: [00:22:08] Thank you so much.


Bradley Metrock: [00:22:09] For The Voice of Healthcare, Episode 12 - thank you for listening and until next time.

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