Focus on your customers for your tech investments

With rapidly advancing technology, it can be hard for companies to keep up with the latest bells and whistles while still focusing on their core business.

For Molina Healthcare, it has been important to leverage technology to engage with our members and providers, but to never lose sight of our mission of providing health care to people receiving government assistance.

When an emergency room physician founded our company in 1980, cellphones and the internet were nonexistent. Today, 90 percent of Americans own a mobile phone and 64 percent own a smartphone, according to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center.

This can be overwhelming for businesses that aren’t focused primarily on technology, which is most of us. Fortunately, we don’t have to be on the cutting edge of every technological advance. The key is to focus on the areas that matter most to your customers.

Data is your best friend

Use the data you have to decide how to prioritize where you invest. An example of this for Molina has been using Google Analytics to help justify the need for a mobile friendly member portal, My Molina. When we saw that more than 30 percent of our web traffic came from mobile devices — even with designs that weren’t optimized for use on those devices — we knew the demand was there.


Technology doesn’t have to solve every problem, but if you focus on key tasks your target audience cares about the most, you can make a significant impact. We looked at which My Molina features our members used most often and which they called us about most frequently, and started by making those available on a mobile version of My Molina.

Another smart practice is looking at the demographics of your target audience. As a health plan serving Medicaid members in partnership with the state of Ohio, a high percentage of our members are expecting mothers.

To leverage a texting campaign, it made sense to focus on prenatal care using a service called text4baby. It has the ability to improve health outcomes by sending helpful reminders such as when to schedule physician appointments, while also avoiding things like premature delivery or complications due to smoking or alcohol use during pregnancy.

Rather than trying to reach every member, it’s more effective to focus on an important audience going through a specific experience.

Build a business case

Investing in technology is expensive, so make sure those investments help your bottom line. Look at where your costs are highest or your margins the largest, and work backwards from there.

At Molina, every project requires a ROI justification. Because answering member phone calls is more costly than providing an online self-service tool, investing in the technology to enhance My Molina made sense. Similarly, by offering the simple and free text4baby service, we leveraged technology to support our members with delivering a healthy baby by sending important prenatal care messages.

Technology moves fast, but the best tech investments are made as a result of thorough data analysis, prioritization and a strong business case.


Ami Cole is the president of Molina Healthcare of Ohio, the state’s second largest Medicaid Managed Care Plan with 337,000 members. Ami has more than 17 years of health care experience, including nearly 10 years at Molina before rising to become president. She is also active in the community, serving as a board member for the nonprofit After-School All-Stars.