Peak Preparedness: How Technology Allows Insurers to Manage Sudden Changes in Demand

BrandPost By Teresa Meek
Apr 12, 2022
IT Leadership

How to face the future with innovation that improves customer experiences

Nurse assisting patient on iPad.
Credit: FatCamera

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it shook every industry to the core, but especially and dramatically affected health insurers. Like other businesses, they had to switch to remote working practically overnight. In addition, they faced an onslaught of claims and initial uncertainty about cost and payments for antibody testing, evolving treatments, and, later, vaccines.

Deluged with calls and questions about rapidly changing health guidelines and coverage, insurers had to quickly revamp their systems to provide updated information. Internally, they struggled to integrate hospital data and process claims as cases shot up astronomically.

The crisis forced insurers to accelerate a digital-first strategy that many had planned to phase in over several years. The industry was not alone in this push: 75% of CIOs reported increased demand for new digital products services because of COVID, according to Gartner.

Working with partners, leading insurers quickly set up secure web portals that integrated hospital data seamlessly and provided the scaling and flexibility they needed to expedite claims processing. To help employees handle changing work processes and increased demand, companies transitioned to cloud services and automated processes.

For customers, successful insurers created new self-service dashboards with user-friendly interfaces to help people find their way to the forms and policy information they needed. Chatbots were created to answer common questions in the changing environment without overwhelming customer service representatives. Companies also revamped their mobile platforms, adding services and improving navigation.

The new flexibility also helped insurers adjust as employers added wellness coverage, telehealth, and mental health benefits to their plans. More than half of firms with 50 or more workers expanded these programs during the pandemic, the Kaiser Family Foundation 2021 Employee Health Benefits Survey found.

With more efficient technology, insurers can provide better service even while experiencing rapid growth. For example, a leading insurance provider worked with HCL to develop a member portal with better plan guidance, as well as new procedures for electronic claims processing and advanced process management. The new portal and more personalized communications led to a 25% increase in web traffic and an 85% increase in sales.

Thanks to the new processing tools, the company had no difficulty handling the increased volume of customers. This success proves how taking a comprehensive approach to digital transformation boosts business results faster and more smoothly than phasing in incremental improvements.

To scale further, some companies connected with enterprise partners. An insurance provider in India created a system to offer sales of its products through banks. Working with HCL and its partner Streebo, the company built an omnichannel digital sales platform allowing bank customers to purchase insurance policies online. As a result, it reached more of the country’s uninsured population and led the company to a 24% increase in revenue.

The technology changes insurers made helped pull them through the pandemic and will continue to serve them well as online activity grows into the future. Employees now expect companies to maintain flexible work policies, and consumers are demanding mobile-friendly experiences with easy connections to services. Telehealth visits, which increased by as much as 40% in mid-2020, remain 30% higher than they were before the crisis hit.

Companies that still need to upgrade their technology should do it soon. Many people put off elective procedures during the pandemic, which could result in a surge of visits and claims when it ends (or transitions to a less-dangerous endemic). Worldwide demand for insurance is expected to only keep growing, a Deloitte survey found, and a third of insurance companies surveyed expect revenues to rise significantly in 2022. The lion’s share of new business is likely to flow to companies that provide an outstanding online experience.

For more information on a digital experience you can trust in the moments that matter, click here.