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 am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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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