Microsoft Unveils Increased Demand for New Health Plan Sales Solution CRM at AHIP 2011

28 June 2011 | Dr. Dennis Schmuland, Chief health strategy officer, U.S. Health and Life Sciences, Microsoft

​Health care reform dominated the agenda at this year’s American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) conference. While hundreds of protesters called for a single payer system to replace private insurance in the streets outside San Francisco’s Moscone Center, inside the conference health insurance executives, politicians and vendors pondered the post-reform world of accountable care organizations, engaged consumers and health insurance exchanges.

At the conference, there was a lot of buzz surrounding our announcement that 14 health plans have adopted Microsoft’s Health Plan Sales Solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the last 12 months. The momentum we are seeing around the new customer relationship management platform is exciting but hardly surprising. Many of the health plan representatives we met with told us that given all the changes happening in today’s market, a simple CRM platform that lowers costs and points of failure in the sales process while improving member retention is top among their business needs. Microsoft Dynamics CRM fits the bill as it enables health plans to quickly and easily migrate their marketing and sales processes online, and what we heard was that they liked the look and feel of the integration with Microsoft Outlook and more importantly, the ability to use the platform in the cloud or onsite.

While health care reform was the topic du jour, the only real consensus among attendees was that the insurance industry is at a critical inflection point. Everyone agrees the traditional models are no longer effective but no one really knows what exact form the new ones will take. As a result, discussion centered on the infrastructure and tools needed to better connect with providers and members and automate the processes that improve the care experience and health of members. It’s clear that plans are well aware that in the post-reform world, online collaboration and communication with both members and partners will be a critical differentiator.

Over at our booth at AHIP, showcased several examples of how technology can help plans address what we believe are three crucial areas: cutting costs and complexity; first class customer service; and, obtaining actionable business intelligence and analytics.

The following Microsoft customers are great examples of how technology can dramatically impact a plan’s efficiency, profitability and potential growth:
• Insurance brokerage Extend Health managed to save an initial $3 million plus $640,000 annually going forward by adopting a unified communications solution with unlimited ability to scale out.

EmblemHealth is harnessing the power of the cloud to quickly build and launch mobile health apps, providing additional value for existing and potential members. Their health tips app available on Windows Phone 7 uses the phone’s GPS service to quickly pinpoint the nearest flu shot provider.
Insphere Insurance Solutions, an insurance distributor, wanted to create a seamless infrastructure to help manage key business processes across multiple carriers and lines of business while supporting the company’s ambitious growth plans. By implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM together with insurance software products developed by VUE Software, agents now have a single source to monitor the status of all customer applications and policies across all carriers and new reporting and business intelligence tools to help them do their jobs more efficiently.
HealthNow New York Inc. adopted a claims auditing solution developed by CGI based on Microsoft technologies including Microsoft SQL Server and managed to recover $44.4 million in overpayments in just five years.
If you attended, AHIP, we’d love to hear from you. What do you think were the main take-aways from the conference? What are the challenges your plan faces in meeting the demands of health care reform? What kind of technology solutions are you using to recruit and retain members?
Dr. Dennis Schmuland
Chief health strategy officer, U.S. Health and Life Sciences, Microsoft