Imagine being responsible for managing and improving the health and wellness of roughly 200,000 employees and family members spanning 50 states, more than 1,700 stores, diverse socio-economic backgrounds and all stages of health risk. On one hand is quality: You need to make sure your members get the high quality care they deserve. On the other is costs: Like all employers, Lowe’s must control escalating healthcare spending to stay competitive.
That’s the job of Eric Foster, Director of Benefits for Lowe’s Companies, Inc., a FORTUNE 40 home improvement company. In his role, Eric aims to empower Lowe’s employees and family members to make healthcare decisions with the same level of confidence that the company’s customers have when purchasing lawnmowers or grills.
It’s a role that requires creativity and innovation.
Which is why we are thrilled to announce that Eric will join an Employer Executive Panel on innovation at Evolve 17, an Accolade healthcare innovation series that kicks off in Seattle on September 12. The panel of health and benefits leaders will explore innovative and disruptive strategies for improving the experience, quality and costs of healthcare for people and employers.
In addition to his current role at Lowe’s, Eric brings more than 15 years of expertise in HR consulting on health, welfare, and retirement plans. Prior to joining Lowe’s, Eric worked with both private and public sector employers, specializing in complex healthcare systems, manufacturers, and retailers.
In anticipation of the panel, we asked Eric to share a few thoughts on healthcare and disruption:
Innovation is a somewhat of a buzzword in healthcare. What does it mean to you?
Innovation isn’t change or “newness” for the sake of doing something different. It’s a constant pursuit to improve and optimize value for as many stakeholders as possible.
What is the biggest (or your favorite) technological disruption you’ve seen lately?
Uberization. The degree of disruption that came about from Uber’s on-demand, technology-enabled solution almost instantly made the marketplace become more agile and customer-centric. Also, when your brand becomes a verb in under a year, that’s pretty impressive.
Healthcare has experienced a number of disruptions in the last 5 years. If engaging healthcare starts with the consumer first, what makes a great consumer experience?
Certainty. When you know how much you’re going to pay for a good or service and what you’re going to get out of that transaction in comparison with other alternatives, expectations are set properly and the consumer can reliably gauge value before, during, and after the transaction. In healthcare, that’s a unicorn.
Where do you see healthcare in the next 5 years?
Remarkably closer parity in price and quality. But for the next 20 years, the majority of healthcare utilization will be coming from baby boomers at an accelerated rate, and employers, payers, patients, and providers are going to have conflicting priorities and limited resources. It won’t be easy.
What item can you not live without?
My iPhone feels a little cliché, so I’ll go with sunglasses. I grew up in Florida.
Evolve 2017 kicks off Accolade’s Healthcare Innovation Series, a regional event roadshow discussing the latest innovations transforming the healthcare experience for everyone, including employees, members, payers, and plans.