Company: Zilveren Kruis
Zilveren Kruis, founded in 1949 is the largest health insurance company in the Netherlands with 3,3 million customers. We assists customers in organizing good healthcare and in having a healthier lifestyle. The affordability and accessibility of healthcare for everyone are leading here. Our mission is to ‘bring health closer for everyone’.
We aim to continuously meet the expectations of our customers and other stakeholders and are therefore in constant dialogue with them via various channels. ‘Vereniging Achmea’ is the association of all our customers and our largest shareholder. We provide our customers with insurance products and healthcare related services and they pay for these via premiums. Their experiences, insights and needs are essential to making our services as good as they can possibly be.
Contact: Raoul de Lange
Title: Community manager
Zilveren Kruis community
The diabetes community
Lithy category: B2C Community Innovator
Innovation: becoming a part of our customers’ community
In previous years we asked customers to either post a question on our platform or enter an idea to improve our products and services. We found that few people were intrinsically motivated to be long-term contributors to those discussions.
We decided to connect ‘our here’ to ‘their there’ by joining the conversations that our customers were already having instead of creating our own conversations. Our customers often already are part of a community of circumstance or interest. Diabetics patients for instance, have a much stronger bond with others in a similar situation than with us. On the other hand: as an insurer we play a key role within the healthcare system which makes meaningful changes in the lives of these people possible.
We redesigned the community structure and user interface of our platform from being categorised by functions to a platform designed to facilitate communities of interest and circumstance. Instead of offering forums, blogs and ideas as separate functions of the platform, we used labels to only show those topics, blogs and ideas that were relevant to a specific community. Thereby creating one place that felt more like a close knit community that says: this place is about you.
We asked our customers which subjects they wanted to talk about and created content based on their questions. We went to fairs, held offline events, made livestreams and topics solely based on listening to the needs of particular communities of interest or circumstance.
Case study of the diabetes community
The Freestyle Libre, from simple question to million dollar research investment.
In September 2014 community member Mike (diadino24) asked us the question if we reimburse the Freestyle Libre. The Freestyle Libre by Abbott is a continuous glucose monitoring system consisting of a handheld reader and a sensor worn on the back of the upper arm that replaces routine fingersticks. However, the regulator (the National Healthcare Insitute) deemed that there wasn’t sufficient scientific evidence available to prove the comparative and relative effectiveness of the new system. Regardless we saw a growing number of community members asking for reimbursement by providing us with research from all over the world to prove their claims. Encouraged by so much enthusiasm from our customers Zilveren Kruis decided to finance the necessary research to prove the effectiveness of the Freestyle Libre.
We asked internist prof. dr. Henk Bilo to research this innovation and co-created the details of the admission requirements for the research with our community members during a live session at our office, something which was a true innovation within our sector. We organised several events together with prof. dr. Henk Bilo, the Diabetics Association Netherlands (Diabetes Vereniging Nederland), our own policy officers and medical advisors to explain the necessity of this research and to co-create the reimbursement customers would get if they participated in the trial. Together with our community members we decided on a full reimbursement of the handheld reader and a 50% reimbursement of the sensors.
The research took two years to complete and during this time we kept everyone up to date through a topic, the biggest topic on our community, with over 100 participants and 1500 replies. We organised a livestream on Facebook together with Mike who started the topic and were invited to talk about the research on national television.
Our investment to date totals over a million euro’s, an investment that paid off:
It has been the biggest scientific research into the Freestyle Libre to date, with 1300 participants. After two years of research he preliminary results were handed to the National Healthcare Institute for their evaluation. The findings corroborated the experiences of our community members:
- Significantly less use of glucose test strips
- Significantly less hypoglycaemia’s
- Significant increase in the reported quality of life
- Significantly less leave of absence due to illness
- Significantly less hospital admissions due to diabetes
Satisfaction and a feeling of appreciation increased under community members
The new approach to involving customers with our company has been paying off. Community members express that they feel Zilveren Kruis is listening to their concerns and the Diabetes board has the highest page view per unique visitor ratio of the entire community. 3 of our 5 most active members are a part of this community of circumstance and by seeing the world through the eyes of our customers we have made a great step towards a truly customer centric enterprise.
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