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CIGNA’s e-Learning Initiative Aims to Inform Public

CIGNA has launched a series of public facing e-learning modules that aim to educate members and non-members on the basics of the healthcare system.

Taking advantage of several Web technologies, CIGNA has launched a multi-pronged, public-facing e-learning initiative aimed at providing basic education about the healthcare system and health insurance to members and non-members. The program, developed by CIGNA University, the Philadelphia-based insurer's educational arm, contains streaming video, Flash video-style presentations, online games and other technologies in each of its three modules.

Primarily accessible via a CIGNA Web site (, the program was developed with help from the carrier's learning, marketing, communications and IT teams. In addition, the carrier partnered with Enspire Learning to tap into the Austin, Texas-based vendor's custom and game-based e-learning expertise.

Karen Kocher, CIGNA's chief learning officer, says that the carrier has learned -- through various forms of internal and external research -- that consumers believe they need a better understanding of health insurance and the healthcare system. "It is absolutely the number one barrier in peoples minds to better working with their own health," Kocher says of increased knowledge of the healthcare system.

The CIGNA program has been broken down into three learning modules. The first two, "Back to Basics" and "What's Your Plan?," focus on how the healthcare system works today and how specific types of health plan coverage work, respectively. The third module, "Take Action Now," is a non-partisan breakdown of the Democratic and Republican health care plans. CIGNA's internal policy team, as well as industry groups such as AHIP (America's Health Insurance Plans), helped developed content for the third module.

The modules are accompanied by an online game, which quizzes visitors on what they have learned. The game is tied in to CIGNA's partnership with Water For People, an international nonprofit that funds safe drinking water and sanitation projects in developing countries. For each correct answer, the carrier makes a donation to the charitable organization. Usage of the game has already exceeded the insurer's expectations, according to Kocher.

Kocher acknowledges that the initiative has both e-learning and marketing goals, but that the educational aspects of the program are the top priority. "No doubt, in the end, we're hoping that there will be a connection between people that participate in the programs and CIGNA as a business," says Karen Kocher, CIGNA's chief learning officer. "I think what's really important is, first of all, that people get the knowledge and skill so that they can be actively involved in their health, and to the extent that it helps them be better consumer of healthcare and that they want to be a customer of CIGNA and see our value proposition, starting with the learning."

Access For All

While each of the program's three modules incorporates modern Web technology, Kocher says that CIGNA worked to make sure that the program would be accessible to consumers with varying degrees of technology acumen. "[The modules] are also geared toward the multi-generational environment that we are all working and living within," Kocher explains. "They are easy to use for people who may not be accustomed to technology but, for those people who are accustomed to it, [the modules] are also very exciting and game oriented. It all comes together to form a highly effective learning experience."

CIGNA is also using a varied approach when it comes to content distribution. The modules can be streamed from the It's Time To Feel Better site or downloaded via a Facebook page that has been setup or Apple's iTunes store. The modules can also be accessed via the MySpace social network or Flickr, a photo sharing site. The courses have also been made available to employers for distribution to their employees. "We also wanted to take into consideration where it is that people want to learn and when they want to learn," Kocher says. "So, you can do it live [through a web browser] or you can do download and play. It doesn't have to be actively streaming, but it does need something that can play video."

Kocher says that there was a concerted effort by CIGNA to make the e-learning initiative carrier agnostic. CIGNA branding on the site is minimal and the modules educate visitors on the different types of health care plans that are available on the market, but do not extol the virtues of CIGNA plans over competitor options.

"The learning itself is provider independent and the avenues which we're using for distribution were also intended to make that clear," Kocher explains. "That's not to say you can't [access the learning modules] by going to CIGNA's web site or a CIGNA salesperson... but we were very conscious of wanting people to get access to this in all the ways that they tend to access to anything. We [also] wanted the content to be very generic."

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