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Tech Stressed at New Aetna School

E.E. Cammack scholars will be educated in the extensive technology component that underlies carrier's portfolio of products.

Educating up-and-coming sales professionals about customer-facing technology will be a high priority at the E.E. Cammack School Group, established this summer by Aetna (Hartford, $40 billion in assets).

Named after Ernest E. Cammack, the carrier's chief actuary for more than 30 years, the school is a reincarnation of the former Aetna Group School -founded in 1923 and discontinued in 1996 (following Aetna's merger with US Healthcare), to support nationwide recruitment and industry training in the field sales organizations.

In its new form, the school will be dedicated to identifying "the next generation of promising, tech-savvy college students, and giving them intensive industry and hands-on technology training to support our customers and contribute to our enterprise-wide initiative to build a high-performance culture and best-in-class sales organization," says Russell D. Fisher, head of national accounts and Aetna Global Benefits.

Technology Track

A specific technology track will play a prominent role in the revitalized school's curriculum, according to Louis Ursini, head of data management services, Aetna, because the carrier's products are blending more and more with its technology offerings. "In years past you were able to understand what the business and products were all about without understanding what systems were running behind them," he argues. "But now, in order for these students to go out and sell to the new, consumer-driven healthcare market, an understanding of the technology behind it is mandatory.

"We're not asking our sales group to be technology experts, but rather to understand how technology is making Aetna easier to do business with," Ursini comments.

The technology organization itself is currently playing a role in defining and creating a learning environment for the technology track, which Ursini envisions as "technology-enabled rooms, with features such as wireless interfaces and access to Aetna's suite of products to give them the true experience" of how technology permeates the business.

Ursini also foresees the school as playing an important role in bringing the technology organization and the business into a tighter partnership. "This is going to put us closer together than we have ever been," he says. "If we can link to what is truly critical to the consumer, whether it is a plan sponsor, provider, member or consultant, then we can be very much in touch with what the business needs to do with the information we can provide."

Preparing for the Future

On the business side, a more technologically informed sales force, Ursini adds, "will not only better convey what Aetna's message is today, but will be able to project how technology can help serve the customer two or three years down the road, so that we're in position to address those demands at the right time."

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

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