Goodbye Healthcare Gobbledygook

Healthcare is complicated. But insurers and the medical industry seem to go out of their way to make it even more difficult to understand. Hopefully, though, it’s going to get better.

I just had dinner with a friend of mine, Ingrid Lindberg from CIGNA, who deserves a huge shoutout. Her customer experience work just won a the first place Gold Medal award for customer strategy as well as a customer experience excellence award from Gartner and 1 to 1 Media. Ingrid, CIGNA’s Chief Experience Officer, is leading the charge to eliminate what she’s labeled as “insurance speak” and “CIGNAspeak” from all customer communications.

Under Ingrid’s leadership, CIGNA has adopted  “words we use” guidelines which replaces such jargon as provider, co-pay and formulary with approved terms such as doctor, the amount you pay and drug list. These guidelines are attempting to purge hundreds of confusing pieces of jargon and acronyms from CIGNA’s vocabulary. The effort has led to a redesign of many communications like this explanation of benefits:

CIGNA Explanation Of Benefits

The bottom line: Healthcare reform needs more simple language.

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

8 thoughts on “Goodbye Healthcare Gobbledygook”

  1. This is nice. Clear writing matters.

    Along these lines, I’m pretty impressed with what I’ve seen from the newly-released Quicken Health, which the insurance companies are starting to license.

  2. Excellent example – in a particularly notorious terrain for customer dissatisfaction. I wish CIGNA had these when I was a customer – perhaps I still would be.

  3. Hi Bruce, as part of the team who documented Cigna’s success, thought you might be interested in two other pieces of information; the Wall Street Journal article addressing Cigna’s success –

    and a whitepaper providing additional detail on the methods used:

    Great success in Q4 – an as alway, keep up the great work helpig define and bring to life bettr customer experiences – Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz
    IBM Institute fo Business Value
    Global CRM Research Lead

    1. Hi Cristene,

      Your links did not work, is there any way you can provide some additional information on the methods used to identify the words used for the guide? Any way that the public can get a copy of the guide?


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