The Future of Benefits Hinges on Personalized Engagement

At Benefitfocus we like to live with our head in the cloud. We think about the future not as wishful laggards, but as active participants in the creation of a better world, and we make strategic plans on how we’re going to do it. We refer to this plan as The Next Five Octobers—that’s five years of thoughtful, focused initiatives, and we’d like to share our ambitious goals with you, not to brag but to include you as a cohort, a confidant to enjoy the ride with us.

When you begin mapping out goals it’s important to consider wants, but more importantly you must consider needs. Needs get us up in the morning; they propel us into the unknown—the need to discover, the need to invent, to learn. That’s why when we crafted our goals for the next five years we began with you, our customer, and thought long and hard about what you need to succeed. So to break these initiatives down, we can begin with our seven product investment themes and then unpack the need driving each one and discuss how we’re going to not just meet these needs—we’re going to exceed them.

1. Data Is the Foundation

Strategic benefits administration is only as good as the data that drives it, so we know that it’s extremely important that we aggregate that data and make it useful for you and actionable in your decision-making. To handle this, we’re aggregating stores of structured and unstructured data—everything from social media to information from wearables and biometric data—and processing it through the Benefitfocus predictive modeling algorithms to provide employers, carriers, consumers and brokers with the most advanced personalized benefits experience in the world. Our recommendation engine will empower users to become owners of their healthcare and truly understand the value of their benefits so they can make smarter, more informed decisions.

2. Provide Insight & Understanding

Currently, only 4 percent of companies provide predictive analytics about their workforce. That means many companies are essentially making decisions in the dark. We want to change this. We want companies to feel assured in their benefit decisions because our condition-based and scenario cost modeling has given them insight into the future, and through consumer shopping activity tracking and analysis, both employers and carriers will be able to track and then model benefit offerings based on real-time data as well as year-over-year analytics.

3. Extensible Ecosystem

Right now 40 percent of employees look to their employer for help achieving financial security through workplace benefits, and since 60 percent of all bankruptcies stem from medical costs and a lack of adequate coverage, that places an extremely large burden on employers. In order to help your employees cross the deductible gap and maintain their financial security, we’re focused on building out an ecosystem of world-class providers to ensure peace of mind. But wellness encompasses much more than healthcare costs, so we’re working to combat the enormity of the growing student loan crisis with smart alternatives to traditional saving—and we’re building these tools directly into products you’ve already come to love.

4. Simplify Complex Administration

Four generations are converging in today’s workforce, soon to be five, and communicating to this wide population range takes more than memos. But you know this. Seventy-five percent of HR professionals say their greatest communication challenge is keeping employees engaged. Instead of piling on marketing duties to administrators’ already large laundry list of responsibilities, we are building campaign management, survey and form builders, task management and communication automation tools to lessen this burden and allow admins to focus on the heart of their profession: the people.

5. Marketplace

We all like the personal touch, and employees are no different. Eighty percent say they value benefits that are personalized for their specific circumstance, and with more of the population turning to private exchanges for their benefits, they’re coming to expect the same consumer-friendly shopping experience to which they’ve grown accustomed. But personalization means so much more than just providing choices, especially when the majority of employees don’t even know what their deductible might be. So Benefitfocus is using advanced algorithms to create a comprehensive, flexible solution for your needs, and incorporating social data to provide plan ratings and reviews to enhance the overall retail-like shopping experience.

6. The World Is Mobile

Smartphones have revolutionized more than our personal lives, they’re redefining business as we know it. One in five workers telecommutes, with the average person spending 109 minutes browsing, shopping and interacting online on a mobile device. This leads consumers to expect access anywhere from any device. So in order to give your employees and members all their benefits in their pocket, we’re building life event management tools that will allow users to complete their enrollment experience through their mobile device. But you also need to engage beyond enrollment, so we’re developing push notifications and reminders so your campaign communications are with them every step they take.

7. Experience

Web 2.0 ushered in a new era of user experience. We’re no longer passive passengers in the digital world. However, are our current engagement efforts utilizing this new opportunity? With only 34 percent of employees saying benefit communication received is effective, the answer is a resounding no. Rather than accepting this reality, Benefitfocus is hard at work to create a new reality—one in which personalized content that is contextual and event-based captivates users, and benefit timeline information empowers them with a holistic view of their benefit history. For back-end users, role-based permissions will break down the compartmentalization of experience for brokers, insurance carriers and benefit administrators, allowing for unified platform participation.

So as you’ve seen, personalization is an overarching objective across all our investment themes. We want customers to have a year-round experience for all benefits, a deeper engagement for the individual and their family members, and an overall umbrella experience that serves up all of the benefits available to employees and members at any stage of their life. We hope you’ll join us on this journey as we seek to exceed your needs and create a world in which everyone benefits.

To learn more about our current offerings and hear how you can get a front-row seat to the future of benefits, contact us at [email protected] and become an active participant in the success of your organization.