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High Tech Requires High Touch

Initial users of Humana's SmartSuite needed some hand holding.

The expert consensus is that online insurance self-service tools are useful for policyholders seeking information, but when it comes to completing transactions online policyholders often need assistance. Such thinking was reinforced with the results of Humana Inc.'s SmartSuite pilot. Although the company experienced more than $2 million in savings as a result of piloting its online consumer-driven health benefits plan (which allows policyholders to choose from varying copay and cost structures), only 60 percent of Humana's employee pilot participants found the online enrollment tool easy to use and preferable to enrolling on paper. SmartSuite enrollment must be completed online.

Humana's SmartSuite features Health Wizard, an online tool that poses questions to plan members and makes suggestions about which of the six plan offerings make the most sense based on health and budget needs. Health Wizard was developed in-house and designed to be intuitive. The company worked with San Jose, CA-based Selectica to provide the online questionnaire function. Responses from the Health Plan Wizard are integrated into the enrollment capabilities using ProAct (Boston) Technology. Ninety-three percent of pilot participants found Health Wizard helpful and 80 percent said the tool helped them decide which plan to use.

Still, because of the difficulty that some employee users had with the online enrollment process, "Humana's human resources department played a very key role in administering the online process," says Mary Sellers, Humana spokesperson. "When we share our experience with prospective customers we tell them that high-touch education and communication is a significantcomponent of offering SmartSuite."

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