Health Plan Blueprint: Managing Change Through Innovation in the Age of the Customer

Many health plans have poor engagement with consumers and there is widespread distrust towards them. Most consumers don’t actively manage their health online and are not satisfied with the online experience that insurance carriers offer. There is increased demand by consumers for better tools and more education about the health benefits they are purchasing.

Benefitfocus recently hosted a webinar featuring guest speaker, Forrester Research Senior Analyst Peter Mueller discussing the challenges insurance carriers are facing with the growing need to shift to a consumer-centric model. Benefitfocus Director of Marketplaces Shandon Fowler moderated the discussion while Benefitfocus Enterprise Product Architect Tom Dugan added additional insight discussing how insurance carriers can work to keep pace in an industry that is experiencing rapid change.

During the webinar, a more customer-centric focus for health plans was discussed with both panelists agreeing that insurance companies need to adopt a different method when approaching the end user. Reaching these customers in large part relies on how insurance carriers use the data to which they have access. The scope and use of this data was one of the most significant themes discussed during the webinar and conversation revolved around its power, breadth and speed.

The Power of Data

A great asset that health plans have is the significant data they have accumulated. This data should be put to use to serve the customer, both by mining it for information to create better functionality to ease the enrollment process and to offer greater decision support. However, carriers are then faced with the dilemma of whether to make or buy the technology that will allow them to offer this greater data-driven consumer experience. This should not be a cobbled together, makeshift solution but instead should be carefully planned with a holistic approach to managing all aspects of the benefits process.

Data Goldmine

Many insurance carriers look to ecommerce retailers like Amazon.com as an exemplar for the shopping experience they want to offer. However, in many ways carriers are in a stronger starting position than those retailers who have had comparatively little data available regarding their clients. Health plans receive data that an ecommerce retailer can’t even dream of acquiring, but carriers have historically done very little with it to improve the customer experience. Data should be the foundation for health plans across all aspects of their businesses and they already have extremely powerful data sets to leverage if they choose to harness them.

Fast Data

Carriers’ traditional data sets such as payroll and claims data can also be supplemented with data coming from innovations such as wellness apps and wearable devices that will offer new kinds of information for health plans to leverage. Traditionally businesses have recognized the value of big data but it also needs to be fast – engaging consumers with the most up to date information. Health plans should act now to find ways to capitalize on the data that new technologies are making available to them.

Insurance carriers have relatively little brand loyalty on which they can capitalize. Consumers are willing to switch if the opportunity arises and competitive pressures in the industry are very real. Forward thinking carriers should invest in the technology to better engage their customers while working to be more retail-oriented. The quantity of data already at their disposal allows carriers to learn more about their customers and offer them the right products while simultaneously allowing them to offer data-driven decision support so that these customers are given the opportunity to make the right decisions.

View the webinar to learn more about how insurance carriers can capitalize on channel disruption by adopting customer-centric technology strategies.