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"Me sticking 40 A4s on the wall did cause a bit of a stir”
It was 2017, and Martijn Hoenderop (34) was on the verge of resigning from his position as senior digital designer at health insurance company CZ. He believed so strongly in an innovative concept he had developed, that he wanted nothing more than to present it with a proof of concept. “I don’t really have this job because of what it pays, but because I have certain beliefs about how things can be done better.” If there wasn’t enough room for those beliefs, Hoenderop would lose his motivation. And you should be honest about that, he thinks. “If you really believe in something, you have to stand behind your story, otherwise you’ll get discouraged.”
CZ gave him the space he asked for. For the past 3 years, Hoenderop has been working on a new system for their terms and conditions, but we’ll get to that later. First, a little more about his motivators, because they’re what brought him to his current employer in 2013. Prior to CZ, Hoenderop worked at MediaMonks — “a giant, innovating company” — that for him, was too focussed on advertising. He left, not because of the job itself, but because he wanted to do something with social work. It was quite a switch. “To go from one company that runs like the wind, to a health insurance company in which I can find the time to figure out my ideas, how to organize them and investigate potential obstacles.”
As health insurance providers, we are responsible for managing and investing Dutch healthcare funds, and that’s a big deal, finds Hoenderop. “Most people we deal with already have a problem with their health. Our job is to make sure that our customers have to deal with us as little as possible, so that they can fully concentrate on getting better.” What Hoenderop means is that smart technical solutions really prove their worth when they lead to providing customers with a smoother and better experience.
Checking in with customers
The new system for terms and conditions that Hoenderop came up with, and that CZ wants to finalize and launch next year, is a good example of what we just discussed. Before, it went like this. If you wanted to find out whether your insurance covered physiotherapy, you had to read a lot of complicated information on the website, or scroll through the 180-page strong PDF version. You could try your luck with ctrl-f, to look for a specific term, but the terms and conditions we definitely not accessible or client-friendly. “Meanwhile, that’s the core of our product,” says Hoenderop. “We were shuffling the information back and forth between technical solutions, but we weren’t really looking at the information itself.” That was something that Hoenderop also did want to do. “So I walked over to my manager and said: I want to be part of this, but I want to spend half of my time in customer service, doing customer research, to find out what problems our customers come across.”
And so it happened. Hoenderop produced extensive flowcharts of 40 reimbursement pages on subjects such as dental care, physiotherapy and hospital care. “My colleagues were pretty stunned when I started sticking A4s on the wall, to line up common denominators and unique information. I’m used to working this way, but for this place it was unusual.” In this way, Hoenderop quickly got a picture of the ingredients that make up terms and conditions. “Parallel to that, we conducted customer surveys to find out what was the clearest and most logical flow of the terms and conditions pages for clients.”
There’s a lot more to say about this, but the most important question remains: what changes for the client? Hoenderop says, “That you can actually make an appointment using your policy. For example, you want to know if you get reimbursed for physiotherapy, you could start with having to go through a kind of online questionnaire. When necessary, we ask for age, the reason you need care, your type of insurance, you name it. And instead of you having to become a wizard and learn all the terms and conditions rules, you get a precise answer on which reimbursement option fits your situation, all based on your questionnaire results.”
A big advantage of this system is that they, as an organization, don’t need to rewrite all terms and conditions several times. Instead, it’s now one source of information, says Hoenderop. “Before that, we had many versions of the same thing, from comms and marketing, from lawyers and from customer service. This only ensured confusion and clients want nothing to do with it. All they want is a clear answer to their question.”
Dare to share your ideas quickly
Daring to experiment is a major challenge for a health insurance company, since by nature, they prefer to avoid risks, says Hoenderop. We always get ready for a parachute jump, while my preference is to jump off the sidewalk a thousand times a week. This way, you don’t take so long to be ready because there is less chance that something will go wrong.” That’s why Hoenderop encourages his colleagues to share their ideas more quickly. “Don’t be embarrassed and just put them out there. The only way they’ll get better is with feedback from others, particularly from those who don’t understand you at all.” This vision was well received in the company, Hoenderop points out. Their release cycle is now once a week, as opposed to the earlier once a quarter. And it all happened during his time there. “That’s a great accomplishment! You see that teams now tackle smaller blocks at a time, so they can learn more quickly what works and what doesn’t.”
Innovation isn’t something that only comes out of the innovation department, you want everyone to be involved in it, says Hoenderop. That’s why he emphasizes how important collaboration is. “Healthcare is our biggest expense, meanwhile, it’s becoming less and less affordable in the Netherlands. The question is, how can we together, prevent people from becoming ill? That’s something we can do only by joining forces with healthcare providers, patients and customers, finding out the obstacles and solving them together.” Hoenderop sees this as a great mission for health insurers: we can create space to innovate in digital care.
A quick look back to online terms and conditions, and reimbursement, because that’s where working together proves to be essential. “It took quite a while within CZ, for them to be convinced that the idea worked. We started with it 2016, and in 2017 we showed a successful proof of concept. This year we expect to finish everything.” Getting his colleagues in different departments involved and motivated was in the end, a successful endeavor, he thinks. “You have to create a movement.” That’s something you do with enthusiasm. You shouldn’t be afraid to look around and try out new ideas and things. To show that things can indeed work when you do them a different way.” This can also mean that you look for people who may have difficulty getting onboard with your idea.” Changes always bring on resistance, initially. But if you get people to work together, get more involved, and work through the opposition, it feels less like change. So it goes from being a revolution, to being an evolution.”
About Beyond Design:
What’s digital design to you? We see it as appealing digital experiences that add enriching value. Technology has propelled society forward and excellent design makes it accessible to everyone. The journey begins at client needs and reaches out in all directions to sustain healthy relationships.
Who are the design leaders nowadays, what drives them and what are their biggest challenges? At Hike One we frequently meet designers that inspire us, designers who we love to collaborate with, because we can learn from each other. We’re opening a conversation with digital design and UX experts. Exploring new technologies, UX & user research. How to blaze your trail in digital product design while staying ahead of fluctuating requirements and changing times? How to make your design processes scalable, adaptable and dynamic? Get it all here in our interview series.
Journalist, Christel Don. Photographer, Frank Poppelaars. Researcher, Marna van Hal, Hike One.
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