Krishnan Sridharan has a big job. As Chief Growth Officer for Cigna Global Benefits, he’s responsible for planning out the strategy for the global business of a company that has grown for over 225 years and in an industry buffeted by the winds of disruption.
Healthcare is in the midst of a period of unprecedented change. From 3D printing organs and tissues to AI-powered precision medicine, genomic analysis, and designer babies, there’s never been a more dynamic time to work in the industry.
At Salesforce, we’ve helped companies create better connections across the entire healthcare ecosystem, so we talked to Krishnan about personalization and the future of healthcare, and the opportunities and challenges that AI presents to customers and the global workforce.
Q: When you think about the future of your business, what comes to mind?
When I think about the future, I think about disruption. If we’re going to thrive, then we’ve got to be more customer-centric and move towards a more B2C environment. Payers can learn a lot from consumer goods companies as well as from the hospitality industry. Consumers expect personalization in every aspect of their lives, and they don't think healthcare should be any different. This means changing the way we do business and how we interact with our end customers.
Ultimately, what powers this kind of disruption is data. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we have to harness the data we have and make it actionable and useful for members. One of the biggest problems in our industry is that people don't understand their own healthcare. They don't understand the specific steps they need to take to prevent illness in the future. Now with the help of AI, we can make improvements and actually help people along this particular journey. Managing this transition into this digital-first world is of critical importance.
The key for companies is how to draw valuable insights from the health information we manage for our members. How do we make all this data more relevant to and useful for members? How can we use it to predict their needs, and how can we use it to help them in their healthcare journey?
That’s where AI comes in. Through artificial intelligence, we can apply algorithms that allow us to understand the needs and requirements of our members in far more detail than ever before.
For example, if I knew that the wrinkles on my face were associated with a susceptibility to a particular disease, that would be something I could prepare for. Personally, it would have an enormous and positive impact.
Think about how useful that would be! Giving our members a better understanding of their own health would improve outcomes and lower costs across the board. This changes the game completely.
Q: What advice do you have for other CEOs looking to leverage AI in their business?
As a friend of mine said, be careful when you play with matches.
AI is absolutely one of the most important aspects of our future. But we must be careful about where and when we’re using AI, in what capacity, and for what outcomes. We have a responsibility to our end users and must be mindful of how this data is used and shared.
AI, at its best, can give companies deep insights to better understand their customers. It will allow us to focus on the most productive work and, as a result, actually improve the lives of our employees and customers.
But at its worst, AI would reinforce and extend biases, and lead to unintended consequences. We need diversity in our data sets, ensuring that the information we have is representative of all our constituents, not just specific segments or certain markets. Companies must use caution from the point where they gather customer data through to when they entrust that information with the people who are doing the analysis and decision making.
Q: As business leaders consider AI’s impact on their workforce, what steps should they take to ensure they’re prepared for the inevitable digital disruption ahead?
It’s crucial we focus on training and equipping employees with the new skills they’ll need. The workforce of the future will be comprised of individuals who can learn, unlearn, and then learn again. With the pace and speed of innovation, the old way of doing things will not hold water anymore.
We need to help people understand that new technologies like AI are critical. As we deploy AI, we need to understand and communicate the clear benefits and how it can improve efficiency and accuracy, and enhance and support existing and new functions.
Exposing employees to design thinking as a whole new way of creating solutions is critical. We need to give them the ability to experiment, to think outside the box, and to challenge the status quo. Understanding member data to drive insights into the future will put them at the center of their own healthcare. Being able to support our members along their personal healthcare journey is one of the key areas where AI is going to revolutionize our industry going forward.
Learn more about the future of work in the age of AI in this article from Peter Schwartz, SVP of Strategic Planning for Salesforce, and Paul Daugherty, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer for Accenture, and discover how Salesforce helps companies create better connections across the healthcare ecosystem.
Hear from C-Suite leaders who are using AI to transform the way we work and live. Watch now.