Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the weaknesses of healthcare systems worldwide while acting as an accelerator for digitization and innovation in the sector. However, patients still face numerous overly complicated obstacles especially in the submission processes of private insurance companies. They often feel lost facing medical paperwork and confusing insurance lingo.
With 9 million people with full private health insurance and around 27 million people with complementary private health insurance in Germany, there is an unmet yet growing demand for user-friendly solutions. When you have serious health concerns to worry about, the last thing you need is to stress about payment and getting rightfully reimbursed.
To combat this frustration, make healthcare simpler and more accessible to everyone, Sebastian Gruber created an app named hi.health. He shares how he managed to bridge the gaps in the health system when people needed it the most.
Starting a business to do things differently
One of my core skills is bringing teams together and making them work more efficiently. I try to enable teams and be a facilitator to accelerate things. This might go back to my experience when working for McKinsey, which really teaches you about getting things done in a limited amount of time. I’d say I am quite an entrepreneurial person who is very execution-focused.
As a consultant working across industries from finance to insurance to automotive to high tech, I have seen a lot of large global players. I realized that most large corporations struggle to put the customer first. It’s not their fault, to be honest. It’s just how things go when other priorities come up.
The big advantage of next-generation companies is the focus on customers. My co-founder and I looked at the healthcare industry and found that traditional businesses in those industries were very removed from their customers. We found that if we could improve the customer experience, we would be able to deliver a game-changing experience for users. In healthcare, if you do it right, you are tackling a problem that affects the entire society and improves lives.
Simplifying Health Expense Management
We’re on a mission to make complex healthcare systems understandable, easy to use, and human. Because health is personal, healthcare solutions should be too. hi.health operates at the intersection of digital health, fintech, and insurtech. While each of these rapidly growing markets are already exciting areas of development, their combination in one product is unique. Our goal is to use digital technology to enable users to take their health into their own hands.
hi.health offers people with private health insurance access to convenient and secure online healthcare billing. Users submit medical invoices via our app or web platform. Then, hi.health takes care of the rest – processing, billing, and customer service by providing a seamless user experience. hi.health gives you quick insight into the financial side of your healthcare, but also allows you to get instantly reimbursed when filing an expense.
With time the app will enable more and more convenient financial services for your health needs while eliminating out-of-pocket expenses completely. For insurance contracts with deductibles and limits, hi.health simply withdraws any missing funds from your home account once reimbursement has gone through.
Building a growth-focused business
We cluster everything we do in terms of customer journey phases: acquisition, engagement, monetization, and operations. In this way, our OKRs always fall into those categories and are consistent across the product teams.
We have dedicated departments as well – we have one person who is responsible for Marketing and Communications, we have a CTO, etc. Early on, we hired people who were senior and knew how to find the right balance in terms of ways of working.
Initially, our key focus areas are the following:
1. Resilient processes
The management team has a daily check-in meeting where we share progress and future strategies. We also have monthly town hall meetings where we get the entire company together and transparently share progress, do a show and tell, etc. We saw the value in this last year when moving from office life to remote life was pretty smooth.
I also realized that every time I get comfortable for a few months, it means that something is slowing down somewhere and I need to pay attention again. Tweaking processes is a constant and key part of the work.
2. Active focus on growth
We have dedicated growth and CRM teams that combine strengths across the business. They are currently focused on acquisition, activation, and engagement. We also bring together cross-functional teams (product owners, data, front end, back end, CRM, growth) to help drive engagement. The power of this structure allows us to plan and execute very fast around specific challenges.
3. Keep it personal and human
We talk about the insurance industry here where the typical interaction is that they ask you to pay a premium once a year and if there is a claim, their initial inclination is to tell you that they cannot reimburse it.
The NPS on average is around 12 in Germany (based on a recent study). For us, being human and transparent is a major differentiator and that shows in our customer feedback. We have built digital customer-first experiences in places where people are used to complex, convoluted, slow, and paper-based experiences.
4 pillars of a transparent business
We focus on four key elements in our business to create the kind of change we think our industry needs:
1. Company culture
We are driven by our vision and mission and we are having fun. We encourage experimentation and we have a very positive atmosphere. We also build safety nets so people are allowed to make mistakes, learn from them and report transparently. We are very driven and performance-oriented, but we have learned that we can do that while still being very nice and respectful to each other. This culture is a key factor in how we recruit people and it all trickles down to our users and their experience.
We try to reduce friction and make everything as simple, intuitive, and smooth as possible. Users should immediately understand what is needed of them. We are constantly questioning ourselves as to how to improve the experience.
3. Customer centricity
We have clearly defined personas and have persona guardians across the company (even in our engineering team) who question everything. “What would Klaus (one of our personas) think of this?”, “Would he understand it?”
We constantly evolve our personas based on insights and behaviors that they have: “Do they proactively care about their health?”, “How do they speak?”, “Do they have children?”, “What do they need to learn?”
We did a ton of workshops with potential customers and interviews to get a deep understanding of the people we were building for. What are their key pain points and how can we best address them?
4. Being personal
If a customer submits a claim to us and there is an issue with the claim, a typical insurance company would send a letter that could take weeks. In contrast, we introduced a personal concierge team that supports you as swiftly as possible. For each claim, our customers directly engage with us and are supported throughout the process. We strive to always be active, positive, simple, and contextual.
Targeting long term value
The impact of our product depends a lot on the end-user. For example, our product is particularly relevant to people with chronic conditions because they get a lot of value from it. We are proud of our quite high retention rate. We do see that the target group is older than we originally anticipated and they have very different trained behaviors and experiences.
Fully understanding our target group is always a challenge that we embrace. We want to make sure that they not only understand and engage with the products we develop, but also solve an actual problem they face with the services we provide. It’s a contemporary approach to digitally-organized personal healthcare designed from the ground up to put our users first.