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Delta Dental of Illinois Delivers Web-Based Self-Service Reports

Delta Dental of Illinois seeks to hone its competitive edge in a tough market by delivering self-service report request functionality that can deliver reports that formerly took several days within an hour.

As part of an effort to distinguish itself in the Chicago market through Web-oriented customer service, Delta Dental of Illinois (DDIL) has launched self-service reports for group benefit administrator users of its employer portal. The Business Objects-based application gives users the ability to download reports and access real-time information in a variety of presentations, eliminating time-consuming requests for special reports.

Lisle, Ill.-based DDIL (about $400 million in premium) delivers monthly performance reports to its clients, but benefit administrators commonly request information not included in standard reports, according to Ross Gosnell, the carrier's CIO. The procedure for requesting nonstandard reports was manually intensive and required the involvement of the benefit administrator, the ac- count executive and DDIL's IT department.

"There is security involved in that process because you're transferring protected health information," Gosnell explains. "So there's a whole drawn-out process that takes, in the best case, several days." With the new self-service function, however, benefit administrators can receive specially requested reports in as little as an hour, Gosnell says, noting that DDIL rolled out the capability in April, having completed the application last fall and piloted it with selected customers.

The parameter-driven reports allow authorized users to shape delivery of data according to organizational or time parameters. For example, users can request month-to-month, year-to-date or quarter-to-quarter comparisons, Gosnell relates. "This gives them the ability to mine their data, based on their criteria and their log-in," he says. "They can change reporting periods on the fly, they can look at multiple divisions, and they have the ability to drill down and look at real-time data -- they can actually run a report in real time and see how much money they're spending on dental claims, how many of their subscribers have gone to the dentist that month."

The drill-down capability means that a single online report can replace four paper-based reports -- and report request processes, Gosnell notes. Users can download the reports from the portal in PDF, Excel or comma-separated files, he adds.

The reports are created through interaction of the Business Objects (San Jose, Calif.) XI business intelligence platform with the carrier's Oracle (Redwood Shores, Calif.) 9i database. "We have a strategic plan to provide information across the enterprise to end users, knowledge workers and external stakeholders using the Business Objects XI platform," says Gosnell.

DDIL originally invested about $100,000 in the Business Objects platform more than two years ago and has expanded the relationship since then, Gosnell reports. The implementation of the self-service reporting capability included the development of a single sign-on capability that took about six weeks to develop, he adds.

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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