What Higher Education Can Learn from the Health Care World

What Higher Education Can Learn from the Ever-Changing Health Care World

Before I joined the Converge team, I spent several years on the marketing and communications side of a large health care insurer based in Philadelphia. During my time there, I saw huge changes to the market, which included the integration of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the pendulum swing of uncertainty with a new political administration. These were tough and trying times for a company, which was often a slow-moving ocean liner rather than a nimble jet ski.

Like most markets, insurance thrives on stability and predictability. Being unable to predict and understand the past, future and present business causes anxietynot only within the company, but also for its customers, as rising costs and declining coverage become the focal point. Since joining Converge, I’ve quickly realized that higher education is facing similar dilemmas of uncertain markets, rising costs, technology/innovation changes and even a declining public opinion. So what are both of these industries doing to navigate these challenges? How are education brands evolving with ever-changing customer demands?

Addressing Our Biggest Challenges

Aside from the ACA, health care in the U.S. has been undergoing transformation that holds providers (e.g., doctors and hospitals) accountable for quality and cost of care. Customers demand more personalized care while insurers are providing more incentive-based programs to help reimburse providers appropriately for quality and effective care.

Meanwhile, higher education is being held accountable for the quality and cost of education. It’s important for institutions to be transparent about outcomes and education efforts. No longer are the days where it’s assumed that going to college equals a high-paying, fulfilling career.

Navigating the current environment can be tricky and will be crucial to success in the future of both higher education and health care, even though both industries make up a large chunk of the U.S. gross domestic product. Here some ways institutions can traverse these trying times and continue to provide high-quality services.   

Use analytics.

Yes, data is king. In health care, companies are using analytics to determine the best path to success, mitigating issues and creating innovative (and sometimes disruptive) solutions. Leading colleges and universities are doing the same. Listen to what your data is telling you about the market, user needs and make sound decisions that propel your institution forward.

Be nimble.

It’s important to be agile to the change in markets. Doctors and nurses are constantly evolving through breakthrough research, continuing education and learning new technologies to better serve their patients. How are the professors on your campus tuning into the demands of modern learners? Is your institution embracing new technology to keep students engaged in the present while also looking to the future?

Find disruptors.

From small startups all the way up to large insurance agencies, companies are constantly finding ways to disrupt the marketplace. Health care companies are striving to find new ways to treat chronic conditions or prevent catastrophic health events like heart attacks.

With higher education, new learning models are bubbling up from startups and top universities, bridging the gap in education. This sort of revolution is providing access to high-quality education for millions of people who have never had access before. Using these kinds of game-changing disruptors will help educational intuitions through the current challenges.

Fall in love with the problem not the solution.

Oftentimes, companies get obsessed with finding a solution. Instead, get obsessed with the problem. Using analytics and understanding the problem inside and out creates the best solutions. Become obsessed with the opportunities in the education marketplace and your buyers (students and learners). Find out what makes them tick, what they want and how you can best address those needs.

Tackling today’s challenges is not easy and it’s not going to be solved overnight. However, taking the right steps to understand and analyze problems, then create long-term solutions, will keep both health care and higher education industries thriving.

How are you navigating the changing higher ed landscape?

One step that may help you better understand the problems and possible solutions is starting with a “big picture” view. Understanding your data from a high level will eventually help pinpoint achievable solutions for your school. Check out our series on data analysis and integrated reporting through Google Data Studio.


Ben Achtabowski
Ben Achtabowski
March 1, 2018