Health Plans

From transactions to transformation: Health plan chief commercial officers lead the way

By Kelly Tsaur, Bharat Bhatia, Rohit Bhagwat, and Arvind Pothula

June 11, 2024 | Article | 10-minute read

From transactions to transformation: Health plan chief commercial officers lead the way

The healthcare landscape is undergoing seismic shifts driven by forces such as digital transformation, value-based care, social drivers of health (SDOH), personalized medicine, regulatory evolution and a heightened emphasis on mental well-being. Historically, commercial leaders at health plans were focused on membership growth and premium dollars. However, to thrive in this increasingly dynamic environment, growth and transformation go hand-in-hand. Therefore, health plan chief commercial officers (CCO) must evolve from exceptional sales leaders into architects of business model transformation, guiding their organizations toward a future defined by data-driven insights and member-centric experiences.


This transformation demands a holistic approach across all core functions:

  • From transactions to strategic partnerships. Collaborate with employers and brokers to create plans and innovative healthcare offerings, including clinical programs and digital products, that address the evolving needs of the healthcare ecosystem. This includes incorporating SDOH and prioritizing value-based care models.
  • From intuition to data-driven decisions. Harness advanced analytics to proactively uncover new trends and opportunities to personalize member outreach, optimize marketing strategies and align pricing with evolving competitive dynamics.
  • From static products to future-proof design. Leverage consumer insights to identify innovative benefit structures, collaborate with internal and external partners to enhance member engagement and well-being and design plans that proactively leverage regulatory changes for new sources of advantage.
  • From fragmented experiences to seamless journeys. Create personalized, user-friendly digital ecosystems for members, employers and brokers. These digital applications should enable member-centric care coordination and streamline administrative processes.

While challenges such as technology adoption and data complexity exist, CCOs who embrace this transformation will position their health plans to thrive in a value-driven healthcare landscape. By harnessing data, personalizing experiences and empowering all stakeholders, they’ll unlock sustainable growth, improve health outcomes and become leaders in delivering exceptional value and a healthier future for the communities they serve.

The healthcare market is in constant flux, and health plan CCOs must orchestrate complex growth strategies. Succeeding today won’t guarantee results tomorrow.

Today vs. tomorrow

The healthcare market is in constant flux, and health plan CCOs must orchestrate complex growth strategies. Succeeding today won’t guarantee results tomorrow. By critically analyzing current operations against an envisioned future state, CCOs uncover the changes needed to achieve sustainable, long-term growth. This analysis isn’t theoretical. It’s a blueprint for a more efficient, stakeholder-focused and technologically advanced health plan. Below is a snapshot of how this strategic evolution might look:


Current state: The cost of traditional approaches

  • Siloed data and limited data usage. Across health plans, data is largely siloed, preventing rich 360-degree aggregation. What’s more, the use of unstructured data is limited. Health plans often rely on basic demographics and historical data, leading to inefficient sales, one-size-fits-all marketing and difficulty identifying high-potential members or groups.
  • Insufficient understanding of product performance. Without granular, real-time insights, health plans struggle with accurate pricing, optimizing value and tailoring features to market demand. This can lead to missed revenue opportunities and uncompetitive offerings.
  • Limited outreach with concierge services. Interactions are often reactive, relying on call centers or basic digital tools. Personalization is minimal, and health plans lack the proactive insights to make informed decisions or drive better health outcomes. This limited personalization is also narrowly focused on members, as opposed to the broader opportunity to personalize experience and actions for other critical stakeholders (employers, brokers, providers).
  • Reactive interactions with stakeholders. Delivering ad hoc services on a request-driven basis makes it difficult to build the trust and relationships required to transform the health plan value proposition into strong relationships. It puts health plans in a position of constantly responding rather than driving value.

Future state: The transformative power of data and personalization

  • Harnessing data and AI for personalized next-best action strategies. Predictive analytics can pinpoint ideal prospects, tailor marketing messages and identify opportunities to cross-sell or upsell with precision. This leads to higher conversion rates and greater customer lifetime value.
  • Granular, real-time product performance insights. Understanding plan usage patterns, cost drivers and member satisfaction at a granular level allows for data-driven pricing, proactive feature optimization and a clear articulation of value.
  • Expanded, digitally driven concierge services. Personalized portals, AI-powered chatbots and proactive recommendations empower stakeholders with the insights they need. This enhances decision-making, fosters greater loyalty and improves health outcomes.
  • Proactive, highly personalized stakeholder engagement. By anticipating needs, identifying at-risk members and tailoring multichannel outreach, health plans can deliver a superior experience that builds trust and differentiates them in the market.

For CCOs, this transformation means redefining how value is delivered across the health plan ecosystem—to members, employers and brokers alike. The stakes are high. Those who cling to outdated models risk becoming increasingly irrelevant in a rapidly changing market. They’ll face declining member satisfaction, difficulty attracting and retaining employer groups and struggle to build strong partnerships with brokers.


This change is a necessity for health plans because the entire healthcare landscape is shifting toward value-based care, personalized experiences and proactive, data-driven decision-making. Health plans that embrace cutting-edge technology, harness insights from data and reorient operations around the needs of all stakeholders will not only survive but also thrive. They’ll set a new standard for engagement, improved health outcomes and sustainable growth, and become valued partners for employers and brokers—positioning themselves as leaders in a healthcare system focused on delivering exceptional value.

Is your health plan ready for the future? To prepare, CCOs must evolve their health plan’s commercial operations in four key areas. 

Move from intuition-based marketing to data-driven personalized marketing

CCOs must transform marketing from an intuition-based practice to a data-driven engine by leveraging advanced analytics and modeling techniques. This shift unlocks:

  • Deep audience understanding. Data reveals preferences, needs and behaviors, enabling hypertargeted campaigns. Quantifiable results include higher conversion rates and improved ROI on marketing spend.
  • Competitive advantage. Data-driven insights fuel marketing strategies that outsmart the competition. Quantifiable results include increased market share and successful expansion into new geographies.

Data-driven marketing allows CCOs to gain a significant edge in a highly competitive landscape where traditional, intuition-based approaches are increasingly falling short. This precision is essential on both the product and consumer sides, as products become more complex and customer segments diversify.


For example, many organizations struggle with gaining precise P&L views below the granularity of product lines, hindering their ability to understand the true performance of specific product offerings. Data-centric marketing empowers CCOs to break down these silos and gain granular insights into product performance, customer preferences and market trends. This allows for hypertargeted campaigns, optimized pricing strategies and the development of products that truly meet the needs of specific member segments. Ultimately, those who master data-centric marketing will consistently outperform those who rely on intuition and outdated practices, driving enrollment growth and defending market share.

Future-proof your product design with real-time product performance insights

CCOs must embrace proactive product design. Integrating technologies such as telehealth and remote monitoring is crucial, but it’s not enough. Continuous analysis of market trends and member needs is essential. Today’s product development cycles can be slow and reactive. Future-proof plans require:

  • Agility to adapt. Future-proof product design involves building a flexible, plug-and-play architecture that allows for rapid incorporation of new benefits, technologies and services as they emerge. Real-time insights into utilization, cost drivers and member satisfaction allow for agile adjustments and optimization. Quantifiable results include improved pricing accuracy, reduced churn and higher perceived value by members, along with the ability to quickly adapt to market trends and evolving healthcare needs.
  • Proactive wellness. Integrating preventive strategies can improve member health and lower long-term healthcare costs. Quantifiable results include higher member satisfaction, improved health outcomes and potential cost savings over time.

CCOs who champion innovation and anticipate market shifts will create sustainable and resilient health plans. Those who cling to static product offerings risk becoming obsolete, losing market share and failing to deliver on the evolving needs of members.

Elevated customer experience ecosystem: A seamless journey for all stakeholders

CCOs must prioritize a seamless, intuitive experience for members, employers and brokers across all touch points. Legacy systems often create friction, requiring a major overhaul. This means:

  • Personalized portals. Intuitive digital platforms that cater to specific needs, empower users and drive engagement. Quantifiable results include higher member satisfaction, improved self-service rates and reduced administrative burden.
  • AI-powered support. Offer 24/7 assistance alongside seamless escalation to human support when needed. Quantifiable results include improved resolution times and reduced cost per interaction.
  • Streamlined processes. This reduces administrative hassle for employers and brokers, enhancing their experience. Quantifiable results include increased broker advocacy, higher employer satisfaction and improved operational efficiency.

Health plans need to become the curator of the customer experience, orchestrating a seamless journey even when they don’t own all the products or services. Just like Amazon, which curates a trusted shopping experience regardless of the supplier, CCOs who invest in this area will see positive impacts on member retention, broker advocacy and overall operational efficiency. Those who fail to modernize risk losing members and business partners to competitors offering a superior experience.

Shift from reactive to proactive, high-personalized stakeholder engagement

CCOs must lead their commercial organizations to make the shift from transactional stakeholder interactions to collaborative partnerships with brokers and employers. As of now, health plans have typically relied on reactive approaches to engaging with employers, brokers and members. To drive sustainable commercial success, CCOs must equip their teams to move toward proactive and highly personalized strategies to engage and support critical stakeholders across multiple channels. This includes:

  • Brokers. Empowering them with data-driven insights, personalized outreach tools and tailored strategies to maximize sales. Quantifiable results include increased win rates, larger deal sizes, enhanced broker loyalty and advocacy.
  • Employers. Evolving from a product-centric approach to understanding and addressing the broader needs of employers, including cost management, employee well-being and administrative efficiency. Quantifiable results include increased employer satisfaction, improved acquisition and retention and long-term strategic partnerships.

Ultimately, this approach fosters win-win scenarios across the ecosystem, including internal sales teams. Crucially, it necessitates aligning incentive compensation programs with the new, proactive and relationship-focused approach. This involves ensuring they’re equipped with the right skills, tools and incentives that enable and reward the development of co-marketing campaigns and exceeding personalized engagement goals. A well-structured incentive compensation program can lead to a 20% increase in broker renewals. This will help in building loyalty and driving sustainable growth for the health plan, while improving the health of the populations it serves. Tomorrow’s CCOs understand that success isn’t just about member growth but also about building a robust ecosystem that supports all stakeholders.

The CCO transformation series: What’s next

In this article, we’ve confronted the hard truths CCOs face in the hypercompetitive health plan landscape. We’ve laid out the blueprint for success: data-driven decisions, member-centricity and a culture of agility. But the question remains: How do you disrupt your own processes to achieve this transformation? How does a health plan commercial leader influence and evangelize all the operational stakeholders to march toward a new business model? How can they accomplish this better, faster or cheaper than their competitors?


Stay tuned for the next installment in our CCO series, where we’ll delve into practical strategies for driving transformation across sales, marketing, product development and the customer journey. We’ll illuminate the challenges, the hidden opportunities and, most importantly, share our unique insights on how CCOs can lead their health plans into the future.

Add insights to your inbox

We’ll send you content you’ll want to read – and put to use.

About the author(s)