Emergence of a New Industry
In 2010, the Affordable Care Act, known widely as “Obamacare,” introduced significant changes across the US healthcare system. One major implication for doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers was the introduction of a complex coding system for medical services. All existing processes dealing with medical claims were directly affected, which meant that getting a handle on this new system was paramount to ensuring that accurate and timely payments were sent from insurance companies to healthcare providers for services rendered to patients—many of whom were newly covered under the Obamacare policies ©. This caused an unprecedented expansion in the risk adjustment industry, which was tasked with effectively managing an inflow of government subsidies and ensuring proper payment to providers while minimizing the risk of errors. Episource, founded in 2006 and a relatively new company at the time, rose to the challenge.
Real Value Outpacing Perceived Value
In the decade that followed, the risk adjustment industry continued to grow. Episource, in particular, used that time not only to develop its proprietary technology but also to start exploring how to leverage those capabilities into predictive measures, such as helping hospitals make decisions around staffing to provide the best care for their patients. With such a robust collection of data, the company began to understand itself as having become more than what it was at the outset. That is, rather than a standard risk adjustment company, Episource was now more of an analytics and machine learning company that was able to offer consultation services for providers seeking more sophisticated solutions at a much larger scale. The Episource perception, in contrast, was still presenting itself and its products squarely within the risk adjustment category rather than communicating the new role it was able to fulfill within the healthcare landscape. At this point, the company’s leadership hired Combo to help execute a transformation that truly expressed what Episource is now and will be in the future.
Designing a Service Platform
To begin, Combo strategists embarked on consumer, competitor, and market research. They were able to identify how Episource was clearly expanding its business potential beyond the accounting needs of risk adjustment into a space of data-driven insights and expert consulting. The Combo strategy team then focused on developing a brand framework that positioned Episource as a leader pushing the boundaries of the category: one, as a SaaS platform (the software-as-a-service model exemplified by Adobe Creative Cloud, a bundled platform of various software, such as Photoshop and Illustrator) offering distinct yet interrelated tools, and two, pairing its advanced technology with human expertise. Distilling these core aspects into an easy-to-understand solution—software platform plus hands-on consulting—was key to asserting Episource’s category leadership.
Merging Humanity and Technology
One major insight that emerged was that Episource’s clients didn’t just appreciate the software; they loved working with the people at Episource. Moreover, this combination of innovative technology and human expertise was something no one else in the category was offering. Stemming from these strategic insights, the Combo team reorganized the product architecture and created a naming system for the specialized tools that were always bundled with expert consulting services.
Creating a Cohesive Identity
This idea of advanced technology plus human expertise informed the design process from start to finish. The logo brought together graphic elements that symbolized these two aspects meeting at a single source, evoking the letterform E for name recognition. Sub-logos were also designed for each product, bringing the array into the brand’s larger visual system. Tying back to an insight from the research phase, Combo designers also developed a photographic point of view for the Episource brand that set it apart from competitors, all of whom used stock photos and stock illustrations rather than original content.
Combo then brought this new brand identity to life, going into a production phase for a portraiture series of Episource employees, shooting video interviews with experts on the team and creating a set of infographics to quickly convey the results of Episource products and services. The entire visual system, including logos, supporting graphics, and original photographs, was implemented across a new website designed with clean and contemporary aesthetics that emphasized clarity of vision and product while gesturing toward the future of healthcare.