Enrollment integration remains painful because carriers are still catching up with advances in technology, according to the president and CEO of one HR consulting firm.
“Employers are still interested in decision support tools but we are seeing trends with employers looking for ways to incorporate data analytics,” Jamie Hawkins at Benefits Technology Resources said in an email reply to questions from HR Daily. “What some benefits administration providers are doing is allowing for the import of real claims data to factor into the specific plan recommendation for that employee. Employers like being able to offer that level of personalized recommendation.”
Benefits Technology Resources is the technology partner of GCG Financial, which has headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois. Hawkins said her company is seeing a great demand for outsourcing services, including call center and general administration.
But Benefits Technology Resources, also known as Bentechre, is noting the increasing use of administration platform integration (API) that allows data to be used more broadly.
“This is greatly needed as benefits administration data is often shared with other systems the employer uses, maybe a data warehouse/transparency tool or carrier,” Hawkins said. “The easier they can make sharing data the better the employer and employee experience.”
That's where Hawkins' expertise can benefit employers, especially those whose carriers are not keeping up with advances in HR technology.
“They are still so archaic in the way they import and export data. I am not sure how long it’s going to be until they catch up – but they are one of the main issues [why] enrollment integration is still painful,” she said. “Some providers are still behind with real-time dashboards and analytics. Our more sophisticated clients demand this view of real time data.”
API integration and strong mobile are also keys to a smoother process, Hawkins said.
“This market is moving quickly and employees want and are demanding better tools and more robust user experiences," she said. "Employers want ease of use yet flexible configurable tools. Employers are starting to realize the real work goes into an HR technology transition.”
On transparency and more user-friendly tools, the issues are more complicated. Hawkins has seen an increase in firms selling transparency and advocacy tools.
“Carriers are not doing a good job driving their members to utilize the tools they provide so a new breed of companies has surfaced and some have expanded their offerings,” she said. “We are seeing increased discussions around utilizing third-party platforms, for price transparency, assistance with claim issues and telehealth."
In short, Hawkins has some key points to make: communicate all year not just during open enrollment, leverage HR technology to make it easier, and work on moving data to and from systems.
“The key to success with these programs is to find a way to incent utilization as it does not appear utilization is happening without some sort of incentive to the member for utilizing," she said. "The idea of simply saving claims dollars is not transitioning to utilization.”