As we continue to highlight the valuable insights shared by thought leaders at the Cognizant Executive Vision Summit, we look at the presentation delivered by George Blankenship, former executive with Tesla Motors, Apple Computer and GAP Inc.

The architect of Apple’s brand-building strategy and the man who redefined the car-buying experience at Tesla, Blankenship spoke to how we can apply lessons learned from the world’s most successful innovators to reshape healthcare and capture market share by:

  • Building and creating brand loyalty and awareness
  • Establishing competitive marketplace positioning
  • Delivering superior customer care

Looking at the Apple experience, he noted how Apple’s combination of disruption and innovation included ‘ambushing’ customers in high traffic shopping centers when they weren’t thinking about buying a computer. The company created an “I want one!” desire for their products through a highly effective combination of innovation, design, simplicity and ownership experience. Then, brand loyalty and long-term customer connections were solidified by continuously proving to customers that:

  • They are important
  • They will be taken care of
  • We are available to help them

These same principles can be applied to today’s healthcare environment by looking at things that already exist and creating something better. Look to ways to simplify, focus on what’s important, develop an innovative approach, and then commit to that objective with everything you have.

Blankenship provided the compelling example of the city of Nagano, Japan. In 1981, men living in Nagano had the highest rate of strokes in the country, significantly above average rates for heart attack and cerebral aneurysms and significantly below average life expectancy. Two key problems were identified – high salt consumption and lack of post-retirement activity.

Through joint government and private sector involvement, life expectancy in Nagano is now the highest in the nation and illness rates are below the norm. How did this happen? By focusing on the bigger picture of not just living longer, but staying healthy longer.

  • Local government made wellness a priority issue:
    • Campaigned to reduce salt and increase vegetable intake
    • Performed blood pressure checks and provided educational materials
    • Developed 100 walking routes
    • Encouraged residents to postpone retirement or begin second careers
  • The private sector took action:
    • Volunteers hosted seminars and clinics in high traffic areas
    • Community groups organized communal walks
    • A local bank offered higher interest rates and Disney weekends for three consecutive years of medical check-ups

The Nagano example illustrates just how effective innovative approaches to healthcare can be. In his closing comments, Blankenship encouraged the health plan CEOs in attendance to consider what they can do to begin reshaping our U.S. healthcare environment:

  • Simplify – focus ONLY on what’s important
  • Have Courage – don’t listen to outsiders
  • Align with Your Goals – demonstrate conviction
  • Celebrate – success and failure
  • First Step – take it!!!
Lawrence Bridge

Lawrence Bridge

Larry Bridge is senior vice president of TriZetto’s Strategy, Marketing and Corporate Development organizations.  He has overall responsibility for the development, messaging... Read more