Speaking with UHC’s VP Marti Nyman

Predictive AnalyticsBy Sarianne Gruber
Twitter: @subtleimpact

What does it take to scale innovation across a very large enterprise and maximize impact? You might want to ask Marti Nyman. He is the Vice President of Business Development and Commercialization for UnitedHealthcare (UHC).  And if you ask Marti what it takes, his answer is the “human touch.”  With a background in engineering, telecommunications and marketing, in his new role at UnitedHealthcare he is responsible for the development, growth and scaling of innovation throughout the company. And not just any company, but a #14 ranked Fortune 500 company with more than $140 billion in annual revenue. Whether a new idea comes from a UnitedHealthcare employee or an outside firm, his team is the “engine” that conducts the necessary steps to scale these innovations to a much larger size, and is the verve for putting it in motion. Marti has a dual role. As he describes, “There are ‘internal innovations’ that the consumer may not see such as speed or accuracy in the way that we deliver our services; and the other, which is the “fun part” – developing and scaling consumer-facing solutions that get at the pain points that people experience in dealing with the healthcare industry. We need more efficiency in delivering healthcare and we have to obsess on what it costs to deliver higher quality healthcare. Health care providers need a more effective way to make a meaningful impact for their patients. And ultimately, stated Marti, “we have to be relevant to consumers; we need to provide things that make a difference in their lives.” In a one-on-one conversation with Marti at this month’s MedCity Converge, he shared how a large enterprise organization converges with providers, technology and marketers, and why increasing more “touch to consumers” helps result in the best outcomes for everyone.

Baby Blocks for Care Continuum
Because UHC is a large insurer, they have gotten really good at leveraging their existing core offerings such as health plan designs, business data, physician networks and clinical resources.   UHC’s next frontier of opportunity is to become more relevant to consumers. And with that goal in mind, Marti says there is a need for a “deeper touch and reach to the consumer.” He expressed that what is relevant to the consumer could be a mobile app that provides great information; checks progress on set fitness or diet goals; or reminds the person about an upcoming check-up. Giving the consumer incentives for achieving those goals is extremely important, and that is a big part of where UHC is going. Marti contends “they need to know we care about them by providing things that make a difference in their lives”.

Marti shared with me an amazing success story, and it begins with a mobile focused program for newly pregnant women on Medicaid. Historically, members were supported by telephonic nurse case management and paper-based resources. Innovation was needed for healthy mothers to have healthy pregnancies, and healthier births to lead to healthier babies. Baby Blocks, the prenatal program is born. The goal was to ensure pregnant women attended their prenatal appointments and increase their understanding of healthy behaviors during pregnancy. In some markets, UHC matched the online program with a grassroots outreach program called Baby Showers – community gatherings were held at community centers rather than clinical settings for a non-high tech but “high touch” people-to-people experience. The tremendously successful Baby Blocks innovation and Baby Shower events continue to be rolled out to other states, and a similar mobile program was introduced to large employers in 2014.  Marti concluded, “Some people have a bias. They hear innovation, they think technology, and technology is marvelous. I like to look at it from the stand point of the right tool for the right job because in many cases the real problem to be solved is going to be very “analog”. It will be people talking to people or having people available to help out”.