B2B e-business solutions provider BCE Emergis (Montreal) is debuting new "order-to-pay" electronic transaction technology through a contract with The Principal Financial Group (Des Moines). The five-year, multi-million dollar contract will provide The Principal's group life and health business the capability to present corporate customers with electronic premium statements derived from their current enrollment databases.
BCE will provide Principal with the a new service, Emergis e-Premiums, an electronic premium presentment and management solution for life and health insurance that will allow premium statements to reflect statutory and other changes made by the customer to its members' profile coverage, as well as facilitate electronic payment of the consolidated premium statement.
"What makes this technology different is that it's going to be hosted in an ASP model-bringing cost savings-and its versatility in being able to service life and health, as well as other segments of the healthcare industry," says Mike Brandenburg, senior vice president of e-health integrated solutions, BCE Emergis. The solution presents "a very significant milestone," he adds, by integrating enrollment technology with e-bill technology. "One of the biggest problem in the healthcare segment is that while various useful technologies exist, they have been operating thus far as a stand-alone solution. We have been able to integrate these two important technologies to operate at a single platform."
While the technology will initially be used in the life and health businesses of The Principal, the deal includes options to further distribute it. "Part of the attraction of this relationship was the potential to expand it into other parts of our organization," says Kraig Boysen, vice president, insured health operations, The Principal Financial Group. "It would be wonderful if at some point we could have a single, consolidated bill for all of our customers, regardless of how many products they have with us." Since the contract was concluded on a transactional rather than a license basis, the technology can utilized in other groups without additional licensing fees, Boysen adds.
The Principal plans to implement the solution to all its life and health customers, including short- and long-term disability, medical and dental, Boysen reports. "Our hope is to get all 80,00 group customers up-and-running within three to six months," he says, adding, "we have plans for a longer-term evolution to higher levels of functionality."
The contract sprang, in part, from an 11-year relationship between the two firms, acknowledges BCE's Brandenburg. Adds Principal's Boysen, "BCE didn't come in and tell us, 'This is the way we are going to do it.' We have a history of doing everything ourselves, so when we talked to an external supplier of this kind of service, we wanted to make sure they were OK with a collaborative effort," he says. "In fact, it was encouraged. Because of our being the launch customer for e-Premiums, we would help them in a design fashion to make sure their product would be attractive to others in the market, as well as meet our own needs."
Among the hosted functionalities to be integrated to The Principal's current systems is a real-time bill disputes workflow process, Boysen comments. The technology "will enable our customers to make changes online and have those changes actually impact the bill they will pay, in a real-time mode," he says. "They will be able to make changes on 'adds' and 'deletes' or benefit selections, hit the enter key and get a pre-bill that will show them what their bill will be based on their changes. It's something that we think is going to set us apart in the marketplace."
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio