Spotlight on Zipari: Transforming Insurance by Putting Customer Experience Front and Center, Part 1

Health insurance and customer experience. Rarely do these two terms live in the same sentence without a “has a big problem with” appearing in between.

With employers and consumers making more direct choices in selecting their health insurance plans, thanks in part to the ACA, insurance carriers looking to capitalize on this shift have begun to realize they must provide the exceptional customer experiences these groups have come to expect from retail brands like Amazon.

Fortunately, new technologies are being brought to market to improve this process. We interviewed Mark Nathan, CEO of Zipari, a healthcare software startup disrupting the insurance and benefits market with the first customer experience platform built for the insurance industry, which Eastwick helped launch this past summer. Below he shares how Zipari is preparing insurance companies for the consumer-driven future of healthcare, the changing ecosystem enabling this future, and how communications have helped Zipari lead this transformation.

What challenges in the insurance and benefits space are you trying to solve? What opportunities are you opening up for carriers? For consumers?

The insurance industry has traditionally served intermediaries such as brokers and HR specialists, and as a result hasn’t been challenged by consumers to change. Over time, this has created massive, tangled and complicated legacy processes and technology that are extremely difficult to change.

At Zipari, we don’t recommend enormous re-engineering processes that look at the current state and require dozens and dozens of consultants to analyze and fix. Instead, we observe the interaction between customers and carriers at every consumer touch point. By analyzing these engagements and applying machine learning and institutional logic, we are able to pinpoint problematic consumer engagements. We understand member sentiment for each member at every touch point, and we use this information to inform carriers how to increase member satisfaction while at the same time reducing the overall cost of service. This opens the opportunity for carriers and consumers to understand each other and make the best possible decisions for each person’s health.

With the ACA and oncoming ‘Cadillac’ tax, there are massive changes underway in the healthcare landscape. Why is now the right time for Zipari?

Health plans cannot wait any longer to properly serve consumers. Today, only a small fraction of individuals choose their insurance brand. However, this will rapidly change with the rise of exchanges and the increased understanding of health insurance by the public. By 2018, consumers will drive over $650B worth or annual health insurance decisions.

Zipari helps carriers understand their relationship with members at every point of engagement from acquisition through member retention. Our consumer-facing tools for shopping, searching for doctors, understanding procedure costs and minimizing spend on care and drugs are mobile-friendly and consumer-friendly. Equally important, our tools for health plans to understand consumer behavior and make intelligent recommendations to increase customer satisfaction, increase revenue and lower expenses are unique in the industry. We have the tools to help insurance companies build their customer experience similar to traditional retail consumer brands.

Many have talked about the coming era of consumerized healthcare, driven in part by new policies like the ACA, in which consumers start actively making choices when it comes to their health. Do you think that’s going to happen?

Absolutely. When 401k plans first entered the market, people were confused. Now, most people understand 401k plans, and if they don’t, they have friends or relatives that do understand. The same will happen in healthcare. The concepts of copay, deductible and co-insurance will increasingly be understood as health insurance decisions move from brokers and HR specialists to consumers.

Once this happens, consumers will understand the cost aspect of insurance and start making more intelligent decisions. After that occurs, it will be a short period of time until consumers factor quality of service into the equation. It’s easy to choose the health plan with the cheapest monthly cost if you don’t understand how plans work. But once consumers understand the intricacies of health plan costs, they will also demand better service. When consumers drive cost and service, they will begin to truly define the winners and losers in the insurance space.

In this rapidly shifting landscape, can you describe the role and impact of communications for Zipari?

Reimagining the consumer experience in the insurance landscape is a very broad idea. Developing solutions require deep institutional knowledge and very strong technology. However, getting these solutions to market requires an equal amount of effort in PR and communications. So, if a company believes it has the solution and technology, it’s crucial to make some waves and let people know.

Because Zipari’s customers are insurance companies, our marketing needs are very focused and targeted. PR and communication strategies that help build brand awareness at the executive level of insurance companies, provides the opportunity for companies like Zipari to open the right doors. Just like the thought leaders that have helped transform the healthcare industry as a whole, it’s the executives at these large traditional insurance companies that will lead the charge to make changes that dramatically shift the way carriers interact with consumers. At Zipari, we work with the agencies that can provide PR and communication strategies that open these executive doors, and help companies like Zipari grow and thrive.

For more information on Zipari, visit or follow @ziparico