NOVO Live: The Podcast

Episode 1: Engaging your Champion

Watch it on YouTube

About Sarah-Beth Janssen

Sarah-Beth Janssen is a strategic risk advisor with McClone, a Wisconsin-based risk management partner. Janssen has been partnering with McClone clients for more than 9 years to design creative employee benefits plans. Her strategy is to help clients keep healthcare costs in check while offering competitive benefits that attract and retain talent.

The Transcript

Curt Kubiak: Welcome to NOVO Live, our inaugural podcast. I’m looking forward to having conversations with you every month from here on out about the topics that we care about, immensely, which is health care costs and how to keep them affordable, accessible, and high quality. And I’m going to have guests with me. Every month, so we can cover different angles of every topic. And so I’m excited to have with me today, Sarah-Beth Janssen, from McClone. Welcome Sarah-Beth to our very first podcast and glad to have you on. You are our advisor for us as a an organization, you’ve done some wonderful things, you know, with with me, particularly with us as a company. And so I wanted to share some of what we’ve learned together with our audience, and let them learn along with us so they can take advantage of some of these good ideas.

Sarah-Beth Janssen: Sounds great! Thank you so much for having me out. I mean, the inaugural one, this is a pretty big deal.

Curt Kubiak: Why I believe it is, and I think it’s gonna be something that folks are gonna tune into, because it’s going to give them practical ideas that they can actually use.

Sarah-Beth Janssen: Absolutely.

Curt Kubiak: Right. And I know that you have have been, you know, a an advocate for this, as we’ve talked, you could have, you know, the most comprehensive solutions, but if people aren’t using them, then we’ve got issues right

Sarah-Beth Janssen: What’s the point?

Curt Kubiak: Yeah, what’s the point?

Sarah-Beth Janssen: Yeah, exactly.

Curt Kubiak: So is I think about my background, and I want you to introduce yourself a little bit of your background, too, right. So from the manufacturing world that I grew up in, a lot of what we did had to meet multiple criteria, right? So you needed to meet a price point, but it also had to be the right quality. And it had to be, you know, delivered on time, right accessible. And so health care has a lot of those same attributes to it. But I don’t know that everybody is thinking about solving with the end in mind like that, right? So we’re trying to do is to get rid of some of the things that people don’t care much about, right, which are the big buildings and the expensive administration, how do we make this so that it’s easily approachable, accessible using surgery centers, using physician clinics, which tend to be a little bit smaller profile, but also cost effective, cheaper to operate. And then pay for what you care about? Which is that relationship with your physician?

Sarah-Beth Janssen: Absolutely.

Curt Kubiak: Right, whether it’s your primary care physician or a specialist. So can you talk a little bit about that, and how you know, your members feel about the way they access health care? And, you know, some of some of the topics that I just raised?

Sarah-Beth Janssen: Yeah, absolutely. So my role at McClone is a risk advisor. And I work predominantly with midsize and large groups. And my focus is certainly in the self funded space, which is where you’re able to be a lot more creative with your plan design, and really execute so many of the things that you talked about. Now, even employers out there that are fully insured, there’s still a lot that they can do to help control the cost of healthcare. It may not be some of the things that we’re talking about today. But there’s really two facets to look at, right? So you always need to look at what is the employer experience when it comes to health care? And a big piece of that is saying, alright, looking at the data that we have access to, are we analyzing things the right way? And then how can we start shifting behavior by using the information in these analytics?

Curt Kubiak: So you need to claim data…

Sarah-Beth Janssen: You need to data, you can’t do anything without data?

Curt Kubiak: Yeah, so you’ve got to start with a body of information that suggests this is where we’re spending our money today, here’s how, you know, our profile looks

Sarah-Beth Janssen: Right. And so if you remember some of the things you do have control over, but some you don’t, right? And so I always say we have to look at what we have the ability to control and then control the controllables. There are some things that are going to be outside of our reach, or what we can do. And you know, there’s a lot of different things that you can do in different capacities. It just depends how aggressive you want to be. So sometimes we say, you know, you could have the most aggressive and beautiful plan design that’s out there. But if it’s too complex, and the members don’t understand how to use it again, it doesn’t matter, right? So you have to really say how can we look at the things that we can control that allow people to still consume health care in a way that they’re relatively used to doing it that makes them feel comfortable? Because if it’s outside their comfort zone, they’re probably not going to take advantage of it?

Curt Kubiak: Sure. Right. So how am I if I’m a risk averse employer, right? I want to do some things differently, but don’t want to be the first person to rush into a, you know, a new strategy,

Sarah-Beth Janssen: Right.

Curt Kubiak: We can still, you know, make that work for you. Right, and still design something around proven, proven methodologies, you know, things that other groups have done that have proven to be successful.

Sarah-Beth Janssen: Absolutely. And that’s why I say even some of the groups that might be fully insured out there, there’s still plenty of things that we can use just averages, norms and things like that, that can still give us some guidance and incentives on where we can steer them.

Curt Kubiak: Right. So again, using this manufacturing analogy, I would talk about continuous improvement, right? So we’re not trying to necessarily hit a home run with every new process that we introduce. But how can we stack together number of singles?

Sarah-Beth Janssen: That’s exactly it. How do we bat singles because the reality is, there isn’t a home run to be hit out there. If there was, we’d all be doing it and our problems would be solved. It doesn’t exist today, right? So we have to take a look at what are those things that we can keep adding. Whether it’s the prescription medication piece, it’s looking at these high value providers and creating the right steerage to get the employees in there, right? Nobody wants to sacrifice quality. I mean, we’re not trying to send an employee to get a surgery in a van down by the river, right? We want to make sure that they’re getting really great quality care. But you know, it’s, it’s interesting in health care, because so many of the times, the lowest cost providers are also the best, they have the best outcomes, which goes against everything else that you typically think of. Right? If you’re in the market for buying a new TV, the biggest, best, most, you know, best technology that’s out there, what one’s more expensive than, you know, the small 20 inch that you’re going to put in your kitchen? Right? It’s just the opposite in health care.

Curt Kubiak: Right. Yeah. So healthcare has some catching up to do. Right. What’s so what’s interesting is that a lot of the same principles that have been tried and true for decades within the you know, the industrial sector or within the transportation sector are now finding their way into health care, right? So something like activity based costing, right, where we need to understand what does it cost to produce a service, so that we can competitively price it so that the market can consume it in a way like they can do everything else? Right? And so to your point, if you get it right the first time, so if we get somebody in timely for their diagnosis, we get that diagnosis, right, the right right away, we get them into the proper setting, whether that’s conservative care with physical therapy, or whether it’s a surgical solution, because that’s what that patient needs, but then get them back to the job. Right? That’s really where, yeah, where this all those efficiencies then start to stack up, because we’re not wasting time with misdiagnoses and trying things that aren’t going to work in the end. Right? But we rather get it right. And if you don’t have things like infections, and re-surgeries that add cost, right?

Sarah-Beth Janssen: And significant cost.

Curt Kubiak: Yeah, those things then can can then, you know, come off of the overall cost of ownership when you’re when you’re looking at this as an employer. So why does that matter, where I send my employee? Why does it matter that these are, you know, ranked within, you know, x percentile from a quality perspective, or that they even measure anything at all?

Sarah-Beth Janssen: It’s all about the control, take the guessing game out of it, right? I mean, employees today really do feel frustrated and confused with how to navigate the healthcare system, it’s very hard on them, you know, you go in, and even if you have a surgery, you finish paying off your first four bills, and then all of a sudden, you get three more, and you’re like, Where did this come from? I thought I was done with all of this. So it’s hard. And when people feel confused, and they’re getting bills, they aren’t expecting, that’s when dissatisfaction comes into play again. So that’s where I think when a lot of the things that you’re talking about in the initiatives with NOVO are so important. It’s  bringing transparency back into the picture, which hasn’t been a big part of the healthcare world and really should be.

Curt Kubiak: Yeah, the single bill, you know, we thought it was going to be a really well, a well received component, but we didn’t realize how well received Yeah, right. It was great that we took care of good people medically, they got really good outcomes. But then at the end, they were confused by the bill. And so all of a sudden, our promoter scores went down, because people didn’t have that last touch, good feel. So can you tell me a little bit about engagement. So health care is one of those things that’s different in that it is something we don’t care about until something happens, and then we care about it. So what are some of the strategies that you can recommend to employers to stay top of mind so that their employees know how to consume health care properly, when it comes time to engage in the system.

Sarah-Beth Janssen: This is, in my personal opinion, the most important part. So earlier, I said, there’s the employer component of things. But this is really the employee component. And unless you can get engagement from your employees on your amazing plan, it’s not going to be any value, right? So there’s a lot of things that you can do. And you remember, every employer is very different. So  communication strategies vary from one employer to the next by industry, by demographic, by location, whatever it might be. And we’re living in a place where we have five generations that are in the workforce. And they don’t want to be communicated to in the same way. It’s different. So you have to make sure that you’re meeting all of their needs. And in giving them the platform to ask the questions and even understand. And again, remember, people are confused in health care. So even sometimes, when you are communicating, people are afraid to ask questions. Why? Because they think someone’s gonna think they’re dumb, right? And the reality is, if they have that question in their mind, so does everybody else in that room. There’s no dumb question, right? And so I think there’s a lot of strategies that employers can execute with this. One is certainly going to be understanding what is the best method of communication? is it doing in person meetings? Oftentimes, we find that, you know, if you’re in a construction, manufacturing, a very blue collar workforce, there’s oftentimes safety meetings that are being held throughout the year. So we will very regularly go and attend those safety meetings and present on one simple topic at a time because if we start giving this Big Picture overhaul on how they need to change everything that they’re doing, it’s overwhelming to people. But if we can give them one little tidbit, it’s a bite size piece of information they can chew on, they can think about it. And then when the time comes that they might need to use that piece of health care, they’re going to be like, “Oh, yeah, that’s right. I can change how I do this,” or “I have control over this.” So I think the in person meetings personally, for me, I don’t think you can tap those. When done the right way, you get really great engagement from employees. People ask a lot of great questions, and you try to get them involved in it. And most people really are just shocked. They’re jealous around the ground at how much sometimes things cost or things they didn’t realize. I’ve had many people after meetings come up to me and say, Man, I wish I had I knew this information six months ago. I went here, I had the situation, it cost me a fortune. And they’re like, how come I never knew this? Well, because nobody told you. I mean, there’s a lot of great information. But if if you don’t tell your employees about that, it’s not going to help them. It’s a guessing game. And again, we want them to be satisfied. So the more information that we can give them, the better off they’re going to be. So certainly the in person meetings work great. There’s, we’re now living in a very virtual world, we’ve all had to adapt to that very, very quickly. I feel like a year and a half ago, people would have said no, I don’t know if we’re quite ready for that. And then you know, four months after that, it’s well, this is our world. So welcome to it. And so getting videos and different information to help that way, could be some print material to go along with it. Now, the downside to this is you and me and everybody else is inundated with more emails than we can probably functionally get through in a day. So it’s finding the right way to get that information out. So how do you as a corporation as a business, how do you communicate with people. If virtually works for you, then there’s great ways that we can do that. If remember, some of the younger generations that are in the workforce today, they just want the information at their fingertips to learn when they’re ready to learn about it. And so we just have to make sure that we’re meeting all of those needs and have multiple ways to give people the information so that they’re comfortable receiving it that way.

Curt Kubiak: I think you made some really good points, right? This multi generational workforce that we’re dealing with that want to be communicated to very differently. There’s no one size fits all solution. It’s okay to experiment a little bit and see what’s working and make adjustments as you go.

Sarah-Beth Janssen: Yeah, absolutely. Right. None of this has to be perfect from the get go. It’s just that you have to be willing to see how it goes at the beginning and then adapt your communication strategy as time goes on. And that’s something we work with our clients on all the time.

Curt Kubiak: Excellent. Yeah, I think like every other skill that you gain in your career, right, you have to practice it. And the more you do it, the better you get at it, absolutely. But healthcare is one of those things where we give people information, and they don’t necessarily then teach them how to practice, right?

Sarah-Beth Janssen: And that’s why, you know, many of these topics, we have to re communicate every year, not just because there’s new hires that come on the plan, but because somebody who might have been there the last two years and heard the same message, maybe they weren’t taking a medication before. And now they are. Well, now now this information is more relevant to them. So and again, it’s all about keeping it super simple. I say that even your average high school student should be able to – who knows nothing about insurance, mind you – should be able to understand what we’re talking about in these meetings and have very simple takeaways so that if and when the time comes, that they do need to consume that kind of health care, they know what to do. I mean, think about how empowering that is for an employee as well. In a system where oftentimes you just feel so lost, you don’t understand how stuff works, you’re not sure what to do next, if you now can finally feel like you’re in the driver’s seat, you know what questions to ask of your doctor or your pharmacist or where to go for care when you need it. That’s powerful stuff. That’s powerful stuff. And you talk about consuming healthcare, you know, like, most people don’t even think about consuming health care. It’s something that they’ve just taken for granted. And like you said, it’s fine or not fine until you need it, right? And then then you really figure it out. So it’s, it’s for us, it’s all about trying to teach people to think about the way they consume care, which for a lot of people is a foreign concept. So we have to really keep pushing this messaging and reminding them, these are ways for you to save time, and money, and all these other great things so that you don’t feel so lost with this.

Curt Kubiak: Wonderful. So again, you you at McClone and you personally have a number of resources available that folks can take advantage of. If you’re interested, they can give you a call and talk to you directly. And you know, likewise, you know, we are we’re going to be doing these podcasts now regularly. So we give information to our guests that are going to be useful to them. And so looking forward to having, you know, different exchanges with them in between some of these presentations so that we can have conversations and bring those good ideas back to future events. I want to thank you for joining me today.

Sarah-Beth Janssen: Well, thank you so much for having me on the inaugural NOVO podcast. I appreciate it.

Curt Kubiak: Again, thank you so much, and I appreciate all the great information If you’re looking for information from either McClone or from NOVO Health, find us on our website via social media or give us a call and looking forward to having this conversation with you throughout the year.

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