Innovation, Technology and HR

5 Minutes

I sat down with Michelle Leung, HR Officer, International Markets, at Cigna, a global health...

I sat down with Michelle Leung, HR Officer, International Markets, at Cigna, a global health service company, to discuss how they are using technology to revolutionize the industry.

How is technology impacting the healthcare industry?

The introduction of increasingly ‘smart’ technology is having a huge impact on the global and Asia-Pacific healthcare industry. Wearables and apps that monitor our health, fitness and stress levels, are becoming increasingly commonplace. Patients are using hand-held devices to relay their blood pressure, heart rate and other vital signs to their doctors so they can manage chronic conditions at home. Hospitals are at the cutting edge of technology, using smart chips, RFID tags, and location services to improve communications, patient coordination and flow, staff rostering, and supplies logistics. We are excited about the opportunities and we remain focused on the people and their needs – the patients, healthcare practitioners and communities whom the technology serves.

How is Cigna responding to this disruption?

Cigna is investing heavily in state-of-the-art technology solutions to prepare itself for the future. We are using technology to improve the consumer experience by simplifying the buying process and making it easier for consumers to select the right product. Big Data analytics can also help streamline the efficiency of health benefits claims by revealing claim trends and improving claims processing. All this results in patients getting better returns on their insurance claims, and caregivers receiving payment faster. Future investment in blockchain technology should create an even more accurate and resilient record-keeping industry as well.

What are the implications of technology to Cigna’s workplace and workforce?

There are several emerging trends and Cigna believe these will continue to evolve. Employees are becoming brand advocates of the companies they work for, utilising social media to share their workplace experience. We are also seeing the gamification of HR to recruit, engage and incentivize employees. Currently at Cigna, over 70% of the workforce are millennials. Millennials fuel disruption and they expect a certain level of technology at work and expect everything to be found on their mobile device. They demand self-service options, expect personalization and care about company values. This has implications on how we engage with them, how we design our benefits programs, how we provide training and feedback and how we determine what our employee value proposition should be. There is a continued expansion of the “Gig Economy”, as technology opens opportunities for “anytime – anywhere” workspaces, where performance and contribution to the business comes to be measured in results not time behind the desk. Cigna is currently working with the real estate team on a new office design and are looking to incorporate a lot of these concepts to ensure we provide a certain level flexibility.

What are the implications for HR?

Going forward, in a highly disruptive and digital world, HR will have many new roles, such as Analytics Designer and Interpreter, Strategic Positioner, Culture and Change Champion, Technology and Media Integrator and Human Capital Curator. Key questions we must ask ourselves are how can we think differently, are we ready to reinvent ourselves, and are we really connected to the business in order to support the disruptive changes.

Are there any innovations Cigna is looking to implement into HR?

Cigna has just started to look into the possible adoption of Artificial intelligence (AI) within HR. AI can automate certain time-consuming tasks that employees do on a daily basis and HR is a major benefactor of these automations. HR will be able to use AI functionality, such as machine learning, to improve the hiring process and provide a better candidate experience; recommend training programs and methods to personalize the approach; drive towards more data driven performance reviews and proactively manage turnover and attrition based on predictive analytics offered by AI. I’m very excited about the potential of AI in HR, and I hope to be able to conduct a few tests this year.

What other innovative programs are Cigna implementing?

Our goal is to build an agile organization through our people, with having the right talent in the right place at the right time. Cigna offers numerous professional development programs for staff, including: The Women’s Network which focuses on career development for the women in our company. We have enterprise-wide leadership and development programs delivered by Cigna University. Graduates from these programs have an opportunity to optimize the application of the skills, behaviours and leadership competencies. Cigna's Coaching Practice has been established to support individuals and help increase focus and capacity, reduce pressure or dependency, and drive both engagement and impact. And an annual tradition now at Cigna is the Global Fitness Challenge: a six-week program where employees all over the globe gather in teams and track their exercise minutes.

To find out more about Cigna, visit or on Linkedin.

How is technology impacting your business? Share your thoughts with us!