Along with the significant opportunities created by the Affordable Care Act for Minneapolis, Minn.-based HealthPartners, the legislation also caused renewal headaches. “With the ACA’s group size mandates becoming clearer in late 2014, we knew we needed to create an efficient process for verifying our customers’ employee counts prior to renewing policies for 2016,” explained Mark Schwob, Director of Marketing and Sales Systems for the nonprofit integrated health care provider and insurance carrier.

“Around the same time, we also realized our individual policy plan change processes needed streamlining,” he adds.

Although the federal group size regulations remained in flux, HealthPartners approached existing technology partner, Xpertdoc, in early 2015. As the vendor had already assisted with automating a variety of policy-related communications, including group insurance renewals, Xpertdoc’s CEO said the aggressive timeline could be met.

Based on a positive track record with Xpertdoc, and an assurance the vendor’s statement of work could flex to conform to the ultimate demands of the projects, HealthPartners decided to expand its Xpertdoc deployment.

Group verification method effective; user experience a work in progress

Starting with group size verification, HealthPartners and Xpertdoc developed a system to draw information from the insurer’s internal systems, pre-populate an online verification form with a group’s specific data and send a notification email to the group’s administrator requesting information.

The notification email contained a link to the online form, where administrators input employee headcount data. Completed forms routed to the insurer’s Xpertdoc-enabled renewal system. If the provided data aligned to government specifications, the group’s renewal followed the standard process. If not, the form would moved to the appropriate workflow for follow-up.

Despite state regulations diverging from federal guidance mid-project, the technology deployment went smoothly.

However, the user experience proved troublesome. For security, logging into the online form required a single-use authentication mechanism. To accomplish this, HealthPartners supplied as a randomly-generated username and password within the notification email. But, when the first wave of verification emails went out in July 2015, a common error was miskeying the login information.

For the next month’s batch of renewals, the insurer and vendor worked to simplify the login procedure. Although HealthPartners requested embedded, one-click authentication, Xpertdoc was unable to provide the capability on such a tight turnaround.

Instead, an interim solution was engineered to allow a group administrator’s email address to serve as their single-use username. In addition, HealthPartners revised the email instructions based on group administrator feedback. In combination, the fixes helped reduce login error rates.

Adding automation to high-touch strategy for individual plan change

In parallel with group size verification, streamlining the existing paper-based process for open enrollment individual plan changes began. “Our individual plan changes are handled either by an internal sales rep or one of our brokers, and we wanted to maintain that consultative strategy while also introducing automation,” said Schwob.

Along with Xpertdoc, the insurer devised a web-based interactive form for reps and brokers to access during open enrollment. Like the group form, an insured’s demographic information was pre-populated. The form also presented plans appropriate to an individual’s specific situation.

For contract execution, HealthPartners desired wet and electronic signature options. To accomplish the latter, Xpertdoc partnered with AssureSign to create seamless handoffs between their solutions and HealthPartners’ internal systems.

To e-sign, individual policyholders followed an emailed link to a HealthPartners-branded AssureSign portal for document review and signature. Once executed, documents routed back to HealthPartners for processing.

Fast ROI, speedier individual changes lead to further streamlining

With the group and individual implementations in place, benefits quickly mounted. “We recouped our group size verification deployment investment within two months,” Schwob said.

For individual renewals, weeks of finalizing documents via postal mail disappeared. “We not only receive documents quickly, but they’re also accurate and complete when they arrive,” said Schwob.

Moving forward, HealthPartners hopes to adopt a one-click login for group size verifications, which Xpertdoc says is “on the roadmap.” For individual renewals, the next phase is expanding the types of policy change scenarios that can be supported with Xpertdoc.

Other projects are also in the pipeline. “As we continue having success with Xpertdoc and learning more about its capabilities, we find new ways to leverage it,” Schwob said.

Beyond specific implementations, Schwob characterizes the true value of the Xpertdoc partnership as the product equaling more than the sum of its parts. “Sometimes, vendors demonstrate excellence in either technology or consulting services,” he said. “With Xpertdoc it’s both. This is unique and enables us to do more than we ever expected.”

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