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Give ’Em What They Want

To stay ahead of the competition in the volatile health insurance marketplace, CIGNA is turning to the Web to strengthen its appeal to consumers.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, considering the sophistication of the Web-based offerings, the biggest challenge CIGNA has faced in its e-business effort has been financial, according to Wyne. "Much like any IT shop, there are always budget constraints, and you are constantly spending money to maintain the systems as you push forward." CIGNA's IT budget ranges from between $500 million and $1 billion a year, according to Wyne, and IT is able to reinvest savings from successful projects to begin new initiatives.

CIGNA is now focused on upgrading its e-business platform to IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) WebSphere as well as enhancing three external-facing portals to develop more-robust content, including capabilities to communicate with customer service representatives. Wyne expects implementation of the platform to be completed by September 2006 and hopes to move and the broker portals over to WebSphere shortly after. "This is a big part of reinventing architecture to manage content and making our technology more customizable," says Wyne.

Already 50 percent of CIGNA's eligible policyholders are registered online. "We are looking to move as many participants to the self-service channel as possible," says Wyne. "Our participants are engaged in their healthcare and can take preventative actions." Because activities on the online channels have replaced many transactions that would have taken place over the phone, CIGNA also has seen significant cost savings. "We see a return on investment today and going forward. By redesigning, replatforming and adding online tools, we are satisfying our policyholders' needs on their terms," he says.

Currently, CIGNA is building on its recent successes by developing additional tools to make healthcare management more transparent, such as radiology and MRI price-comparison tools for that will be released in 2006 and 2007.


Company: CIGNA (Philadelphia; $44.9 billion in total assets).

Lines of business: Healthcare, group, life and disability.

History: CIGNA's origins are in two separate companies: the Insurance Company of America (INA), formed in 1792 and designed to insure hull and cargo, and Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CG), formed in 1865. The two companies merged in 1981, forming CIGNA.

Recent Initiatives: CIGNA has embarked on a multiyear e-business initiative, migrating its legacy platform to IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) WebSphere to extend portal capabilities, while also building a suite of consumer-centric online tools to provide transparency and improve quality of care.

Name: Jeff Wyne, vice president for marketing strategy and product development at CIGNA.

Career Path: Wyne joined CIGNA in 2005. He is in charge of managing the company's Web portals, technology development for the Web and communication among distribution channels. Prior to joining the carrier, he worked in various marketing capacities for DHL Airways, Federal Express and Iron Mountain. Wyne received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Arizona.

IT Philosophy: "The intent is to be as consistent as possible across all of our channels, and technology allows us to maintain consistency as well as meet the objectives and goals of the user in an efficient manner."

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