It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since RedBrick Health was founded, with a singular vision: To help people be healthy.
Here, RedBrick founder Kurt Cegielski shares how the company got started, and the innovations, teamwork and unwavering focus that have brought the company into its tenth year.
First of all, congratulations on ten successful years. Tell us about how everything got started.
RedBrick Health was founded by a group of early Consumer-Driven Health Plan pioneers, which means we’ve been consumer-driven since the start. It was the early days of consumer-driven healthcare, and we were intent on helping consumers be more efficient shoppers with their healthcare spending. But over time we realized that there was a greater and more important need: to help people be healthy in the first place. And no one was doing a good job effectively addressing that.
So the idea behind RedBrick was to help people be healthy their entire lives. This mission was a continuation of the consumer-centric work we’d already started in prior companies, but with a broader and more profound impact, and a focus on the special role of the employer-employee relationship. And because most of us had already spent time in smaller companies, we understood how a small group of committed people working together can drive important changes.
The industry has changed a lot in the past ten years; what are the biggest shifts you’ve seen, and how has RedBrick evolved to meet them?
Yes, it has. Back then, “wellness,” though not a new idea, was fairly uninspiring at the consumer experience level. And it was often disconnected from the larger discussion around the transformation of benefits. Now, the value of wellness/well-being as a more strategic element within employee benefits is better established, and we have far better tools to make programs successful. It has been very exciting to be part of that evolution, and to have pioneered innovations that have helped so many consumers in their health journeys.
And although many things have changed in the past ten years, I think the one thing that has been constant is the consumer focus. Consumers want choice, they want ease and convenience, and—most of all—they want results. So everything we’ve developed—and continue to develop—is based on creating efficient and effective consumer experiences. For example, recent research we conducted has helped us pinpoint exactly what works in our clients’ best-performing programs, and we use that insight to create better experiences across our entire business.
That includes things like bringing everything together into one integrated platform, so that consumers have one place for all their well-being resources. It includes seamlessly blending human and digital interactions, because—as important as phones and mobile tools are—sometimes you need to talk with a person, too. And it includes continually studying and researching what works for our consumers to provide the best practices, tools and interactions that actually drive meaningful results.
Our focus on consumer research also gives us a very unique and valuable capability—to monitor what is not working. And if we ever find something that can be better, we definitely aren’t afraid to completely reinvent it. One recent example: the old-fashioned coaching tools and techniques. They just aren’t relevant or effective for a modern consumer. So we blew them up and have a new, high-value model that again, drives meaningful results.
We have invested heavily in data and analytics, especially over the past two years. Our clients need meaningful insights to demonstrate the value of their well-being initiatives. As we’ve seen the shift from ROI to VOI, we’ve expanded our capabilities to provide detailed metrics and analysis so again, our clients can continually expand and optimize their programs.
Over the past ten years, what factors have had the biggest impact in contributing to the company’s growth and success?
I can say without hesitation that our people are the most important factor in our success. We have incredible teams, collaboration and a “do whatever it takes” commitment to our clients and our consumers.
As we discussed in the last question, we also have that core willingness and ability to grow and change and evolve. And as we’ve grown, we’ve maintained that flexibility and sensitivity to adapt to what our consumers and markets need.
Finally, I think one of the biggest factors—and this relates again to our strong people—is truly understanding what works. We understand behavior design and we understand user experience—deeply understand them. Our commitment to book-of-business research—and I’m talking millions of consumers—is uncommon in our industry. And we continually invest in it, so that when we say we know what works, we really do know what works.
So what’s ahead? What are the most exciting things on your radar?
I’m really excited about how the notion of well-being continues to evolve and expand to include so many other factors that help consumers on their journey, such as financial well-being, specialty solutions to address higher acuity needs, and all the ways we can help clients achieve a stronger culture of health. Broad consumer choice positively impacts employee engagement, and ultimately helps us to address our clients’ healthcare and productivity costs.
I’m excited about how we can continue to help our consumers by blending human and digital experiences in meaningful ways. I know that our ability to offer choice to our consumers without limiting them will continue to drive the results we all strive for.
And finally, just as when we started ten years ago, I’m excited about continuing to learn, grow, and build a successful company with fantastic people, teams and clients.