This week in the continuing discussion of employee benefits technology, I will highlight some key areas to look for in a platform – and where most systems start to get exposed. It’s important to consider criteria outside of the bare bones that are fundamental to any platform (e.g. online enrollment and employee self-service) in order to optimize your investment. If you’re looking for a solution that truly outshines the rest, keep reading.
1) Integration with other systems. I don’t care if it’s carrier, payroll, COBRA, CHDP, or some other system of record – this is going to play a crucial role in reducing duplicate entry. If your enrollment platform cannot communicate with the other necessary technology systems, someone will be stuck doing manual work. One of the most common scenario’s where we see clients settling for less is with payroll integration. Prior to deciding on an enrollment platform, find out whether it can be integrated with your payroll. Red flags that signal you should look elsewhere include enrollment platforms that don’t offer any type of payroll integration, and payroll vendors that refuse to connect to external platforms. Whether it’s sending or receiving data, it’s important to make sure you pick vendors that have the ability to integrate and pass data to where you need it to be.
2) Multi-Device Support. Let’s not kid ourselves, mobile usage now accounts for about 70% of the time spent accessing digital media and we spend about five hours a day on these devices. We live in a world of instant gratification, and this includes the ability to access information as it relates to employee benefits. This information can be available on demand 24 hours a day. When you bring in employee communications (push notifications & SMS), response rates are dramatically increased. If you are looking at a technology that does not have the ability to enroll on a smartphone – run.
3) Custom reporting capabilities. Chances are, you are going to store quite a bit of information in your benefits technology platform. Make sure you can pull this data out when you need to and make sure it’s something you can do on your own. You’d be surprised how many folks are locked out of their own data and rely on a broker or other provider to pull reports. Custom reporting is vital. Flexibility in that reporting is equally important (field mapping, saving, scheduling, exporting).
Don’t ever forget, the data housed in the platform is YOUR DATA.
4) Decision Support / Recommendation Technology. This is where the rubber meets the road since the majority of systems out there still don’t have this today. If you have a very basic benefit offering this might not be important, and that’s okay if you plan on limiting employee choice for the foreseeable future. Most employers do not. This means that if your system lacks capabilities to help employees choose the benefits package that is best for their needs, their questions still come back to the HR department or they are fielded back to the benefits consultant – or even worse, they pick a plan that they don’t understand and hate their employer for offering it.
I plan on posting an in-depth article specifically on decision support, but don’t even look at a system that cannot offer comparison tools to show how the plans stack up against each other. Beyond that educational videos, content, and definitions of key terms (co-pay, deductible, out of pocket) will go a long way. The more you can offer an employee during the time of their enrollment, the better.
5) Analytics and Dashboards. Another area where many systems out there just fall apart. With all of this data being housed in the platform – you should be able to make some use of it. What’s the average time to complete enrollment? How many people watched that video on HSAs? Did employees even use that app we wanted so badly? Are they enrolling using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop? How many employees have yet to complete their enrollment? Systems should make your life easier. Data makes your life easier and having easy access to that data shouldn’t be difficult. How much money is our organization spending on premium each month? What percentage of employees migrated to a new plan this year? How many employees logged in outside of open enrollment to use the self-service? This is yet another area I will dedicate to its own article, so more to come here.
The above information isn’t exhaustive, but I hope it helps equip you with some knowledge as you search for benefits technology solutions. I’ll be following up with a series of posts that dive deeper into each of these areas. If you have any specific items you’d love to hear about and want to have a conversation, pick up the phone and call me: (203) 985-1714.