Every industry faces periods of transformational change that fundamentally shift underlying business models, and healthcare is in such a period right now. Since 2007, when I was honored by being named one of Insurance & Technology's Elite 8, the role of technology in healthcare has accelerated transformational change. Technology holds the key to unlocking the improvements necessary to create a sustainable healthcare system. This includes the use of data to improve healthcare and better serve customers, and the application of technology to create a more personalized experience for them.
Back in 2007, many healthcare companies were focused on managing transactions: processing claims, managing calls and making sure that clients were well-serviced. The web took on prominence, but in the context of self-service. And analytics were beginning to take on some importance in advancing evidence-based medicine. Today we're more focused on helping people live healthier lives, with the customer now at the center of everything we do. The abilities to automate access to data, aggregate and analyze data, and apply that information are changing how healthcare is delivered and how customers are understood holistically. We're improving health by making sure the right care is delivered at the right time in the right setting. That ultimately optimizes costs and creates a more sustainable system. Most important, it results in better care.
Global health services companies such as Cigna can advance this model of information-driven healthcare delivery by serving as a clinical information hub, bringing together structured and unstructured data on medical claims, pharmacy therapies, lab results, medical records and clinician notes. We can add value through analytics to provide evidence-based tool kits. We can even help individualize care.
While the underlying power of big data will help improve care delivery, technology also is being used to better connect with people. Our customers are bringing expectations from other retail experiences into their healthcare experience -- particularly with technology. We cannot expect to engage with customers unless we are relevant, timely and always available, any time and anywhere. Meanwhile, with the explosive pervasiveness of mobile phones and tablets, customers now expect a level of personalization in all aspects of their lives -- including how they manage their health and interact with their health service company.
Through technology-enabled digital engagement strategies -- such as personalization, location-aware experiences, social networking, gamification and real-time analytics -- we can turn mundane or onerous tasks into something meaningful, rewarding and even fun. For example, knowing that 80 percent of chronic illnesses are the result of lifestyle behaviors, analytics can identify people who are at risk before they become ill. We're engaging them to adopt healthier behaviors -- using an integrated social media, mobile and gamified tool set with appropriate rewards and incentives to drive behavior change.
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Today, healthcare is more personalized, more data-driven and becoming more retail-oriented. Technology innovation is shaping the customer experience, and that innovation holds the promise to transform the industry -- to truly make a difference in consumers' health. That's why at Cigna, we're focused on delivering targeted solutions that engage the customer -- any time, anywhere and through any channel -- in a highly personalized way that is based on their individual needs and preferences.
Five years from now, I hope we're talking about how technology transformed healthcare and delivered on the promise of a more sustainable system.
Mark Boxer is executive VP and global CIO for Philadelphia-based Cigna Corp.