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Leading Forward

A Conversation with Bernard Lord and Eric Laberge on Moving from Disruption to Transformation


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Our 2021 Insights webinar series led off with an insightful conversation on leadership in times of crisis on April 1, featuring special guests Medavie CEO Bernard Lord, Medavie Cross President Eric Laberge and host Dave Adams, VP Business Development, Medavie Blue Cross. They gave a business update on how Medavie continues to pivot during the pandemic to respond to new realities — and be ready for future uncertainties.

Bernard Lord
CEO, Medavie

Eric Laberge
President, Medavie Blue Cross

Dave A

Dave Adams
Vice President, Business Development, Medavie Blue Cross

Listen to a recording of their conversation and gain the thoughtful perspectives and valuable insights of our senior leaders on how your organization can turn challenge into transformative change.

You can also read the Insurance Portal’s coverage of the event, highlighting many of Bernard and Eric’s learnings from the pandemic.


Medavie’s Pandemic Response

“In the face of intense business pressures and major health and safety concerns, we continued to make investments in technology and innovation, while maintaining our strong customer focus.” Eric Laberge

  • We launched our Members First program to ensure we “listen, learn and act” on member feedback.
  • We made investments to support our member experience to remove barriers and provide members with easier, faster access to expert care.
  • We accelerated launch of additional options for Online Doctors solution to allow plan members greater flexibility and access to virtual consultations with licensed physicians.
  • We opened Medavie Benefits+, a walk-in benefits and wellness centre in Halifax — a first for Canada’s health insurance industry.
  • We provided online support for plan members, advisors and consultants through regular updates and a dedicated COVID-19 website.

Lessons Learned

“The pandemic has demonstrated how remarkably agile we can be in a crisis — obstacles can be removed and decisions reached quickly when there is a sense of urgency.” Bernard Lord

  • The pandemic experience reinforced the importance of adaptability, flexibility, and partnerships.
  • It also underscored the importance of helping one another, especially our most vulnerable and at-risk community members.
  • It reminded us that nothing can replace the human connection, and that our employees are our most important asset.

Insurance Industry and Health Care Trends

“The pandemic picked up the speed and added to the complexity of an already fast-moving, highly complex landscape.” Eric Laberge

  • The pandemic was a catalyst for significant change in the way Canadians access and receive health care, and a wake-up call about the need for flexibility and optionality in benefits plans. We predict an increase in uptake of Optional Benefits.
  • Today’s patients are looking to become active participants in their health care decision making – this includes how their care is delivered and funded.
    • This is being enabled by virtual care platforms, new delivery channels, and integrated, mobile health teams.

“By opening our minds and being receptive to new possibilities we’ve been able to move from disruption to transformation — to get care to people at the right place at the right time.” Bernard Lord


Virtual Health Care

“By breaking down barriers to treatment, providing the most immediate care possible and by intervening early, we can help prevent mild to moderate health concerns from escalating.” Eric Laberge

  • During the pandemic we saw a major shift in consumer behaviour fuelled by:
    • Social distancing - people required health care at a physical distance from their providers.
    • Exponential demand on the health care system - we needed new, scalable, accessible solutions for growing demand that made sense and had clear value.
  • It’s a shift we welcome. Health professionals are now equipped with more tools than ever to treat their patients, from video conferencing to remote monitoring.
  • This has enabled them to deliver accurate and timely diagnoses, provide optimal treatment, help patients monitor and manage their conditions, and ultimately ensure continuity of care from prevention to rehabilitation.

Workplace Health and Wellness

“Overall, I think the pandemic illustrated how employers can ‘win with empathy’ – those who show genuine concern for the wellbeing of their employees will be rewarded.” Bernard Lord

  • The pandemic has brought the health and wellness needs of employees into sharp focus. Employers, by and large, have gone above and beyond their core areas of focus to ensure employees were equipped to deal with challenges brought on by the pandemic.
  • It has served as reminder to communicate offerings to employees and encourage them to make full use of resources available to them, as well as underlining the importance of connectivity.

Modern Benefit Plan Design

“As an organization, we rely on digital technology to develop products, assess claims, and —most importantly — provide our members with a satisfying experience.” Eric Laberge

  • Modern plans include wider range of versatile and customizable options, e.g. HSAs and PSAs give employees greater choice — and control — over how they contribute to their wellbeing and spend their benefit dollars.
  • Increasingly, employees prefer self-service options like web-based health portals, on-demand tele-counselling, and integrated solutions and platforms that give them one-stop, round-the-clock accessibility to health care.
  • Today’s plan members have the same expectations for the 24/7 on-demand experiences they have as consumers, requiring them to be as intuitive as online shopping.

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Medavie Blue Cross

For over 75 years, Medavie Blue Cross has been a leading health services partner for individuals, employers...