Navigating Consumer Needs During COVID-19 With Rebecca Madsen

The chief consumer officer for UnitedHealthcare explains her priorities and challenges for 2021.


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague the U.S. and countries around the world, healthcare executives alike must make sure they focus on consumer needs. Rebecca Madsen is the chief consumer officer of UnitedHealthcare, a for-profit managed healthcare company. There, Madsen focused entirely on the consumer population, improving their experiences, and coming up with innovative ways to make healthcare affordable.

Outside of the pandemic and getting patients vaccinated and tested, Madsen told Chief Healthcare Executive™ in a recent interview one of her priorities for 2021 is to make sure patients are getting the basic care they need. During COVID-19, many patients stopped routine care and screening for potential diseases, which could be detrimental to their health, she said. The second priority is to effectively manage the cost of care that for the employer population and individuals, so they have fewer out of pocket costs.

When it comes to the biggest challenges, one is around consumer engagement and wellness and making sure patients get access to care. Patients are now more interested in their care, but just because they are interested, does not mean they understand. What UnitedHealthcare does, then, is make sure patients have proper health literacy and know all the ways in which they can access care, such as through telemedicine. Mental health is also a top challenge, especially during the pandemic.

As a leader going through the pandemic, Madsen recommends others in her position never lose sight of their entire external population, have compassion, and to show up for those in need.