3 Critical Steps for Improved Health Insurance Customer Experience in 2015

Health insurers seeking to differentiate from the competition in 2015 with an enhanced customer experience will be looking for ways to leverage all of their data assets, economically and quickly while providing a universally valuable experience from the customer’s perspective.

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The widely reported problems during the roll out of Healthcare.gov this past year serve as a clear reminder of the increasing importance of the customer experience in the health insurance industry. For 2015, enhancing the overall member experience will be critical to gaining a competitive advantage for every healthcare insurer and payer, as individuals shop and compare coverage, enroll in plans and need ongoing access to plan benefits.

Shoppers and members alike now expect immediate access to their information across a broad range of channels and most healthcare insurance organizations are responding by providing mobile, online portals and print channel options. Unfortunately, the applications that drive these channels are typically not integrated to actually work together, compromising the desired customer experience and resulting loyalty.

As a result, we see the attention of insurers now shifting to focus squarely on making certain that every channel can leverage the data representing each type of relationship members have with the insurer: shopper, new member, benefit details and coverage changes. Accomplishing this will require organizations to address three key elements in 2015 and the coming years:

  1. Overcoming data silos

Today, source data for different communications is often maintained in separate systems. Data that feeds a mobile app is managed in one system; data used to generate printed documents in another; and the data that drives the member’s choices while logged into their online portal resides in yet another.

Compliance may be a valid reason why certain data is locked away, while in other cases, applications implemented to serve a specific need may have incompatibilities with other systems when it comes to content and data. Over time, data silos are created resulting in duplication of content across systems, a practice that introduces risks associated with managing multiple versions of the same data.

For healthcare insurers to provide members with much more interactive and valuable experiences, they will need to attain a technical foundation that allows them to overcome these silos and fully leverage everything they know about the customer.

  1. Adopting a new focus on content lifecycle management

Enhancing the customer experience holistically will require the ability for insurers to access a much broader amount of data (arguably everything they have) from across systems – old and new – and have the capabilities to act on that information as a whole, in real time, and equally across channels. This enables the customer experience to be uniformly rich across all the touch points they have with the company. Account management/customer service data and purchase history data can co-exist, both playing an integral part of the formula that shapes the customer communication.

Business applications with sophisticated content management and workflow capabilities hold the potential to increase the value of member and company data by re-shaping how the organization can use the information. Termed “content lifecycle management,” data, images, text, and other resources are managed in a way that allows them to be centrally stored and shared between applications with tight controls associated with their use. Business rules can drive precisely how each element is used, allowing content to be utilized for any channel with the assurance it is used properly.

Content lifecycle management greatly expands the types of experiences that can be presented across channels, especially mobile. Members have the potential to access and self-manage a wider range of information and services using smart phones and other devices. For example, correspondence previously formatted for print, such as contracts, are no longer limited to the paper format. Correspondence can exist in a deconstructed way with discrete content elements that come together dynamically to present the information responsively given the device.

  1. Leveraging the cloud and SaaS delivery models

According to a recent Reuters survey, some health insurance companies are expecting member growth in the 20-100% range. They report having doubled or even tripled staffing in order to handle applicants. While increased customer-facing staff numbers is a result of our current healthcare environment, clunky and slow internal processes doesn’t have to be. Improved internal operations are needed to remain competitive. Moving forward, cloud capabilities and software as a service (SaaS) delivery models will play an important role in making rich customer experiences possible while, at the same time, allowing companies to mind their bottom line. The benefits of this approach are clear:

  • Agility and the ability to quickly scale The cloud enables companies to access all the services they need, when they need them and scale in real time.
  • Cost-efficiency SaaS makes it possible to align technology costs correctly, allowing companies to purchase exactly the products and services needed.
  • Enabling broad participation in member communications

Modern portal tools allow companies to distribute communication management to the line-of-business areas directly responsible for the customer experience and outcome. Customers will receive their information faster because of the tools that enable the enterprise to communicate.

Health insurers seeking to differentiate from the competition in 2015 with an enhanced customer experience will be looking for ways to leverage all of their data assets, economically and quickly while providing a universally valuable experience from the customer’s perspective. Getting access to literally every data point about the customer will provide insurers and payers with the broad amount of content and information needed to truly shape the customer’s experience—and secure their loyalty as a result.


Doug Cox // Doug Cox is Chief Strategic Officer for Elixir Technologies, a company that provides technology and services to help organizations improve communications to their members and customers by streamlining processes and reducing operational costs. Mr. Cox can be reached at doug_cox@elixir.com.

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