Technology and benefits

Education, engagement and efficiency

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Digital technologies continue to change the group benefits industry. New tools mean new designs and new efforts to construct benefits plans that serve plan members who are online and using mobile devices, while controlling costs.

Aside from the innovative administrative functions, the focus for technology is on education and engagement. Regardless of the size of the group plan, forward-thinking plan design should integrate technology to decrease costs through an enhanced communications strategy and improved customer experience.

Education is key

New communications technologies offer opportunities to educate plan members and boost engagement. “Just imagine if technology could raise awareness and allow employees to track costs associated with their health plans, the same way they track gas prices and a whole host of other consumer products,” says Janet Jackson, vice-president of group marketing at Empire Life. “Educating employees about benefits costs and helping them become smarter consumers is an important part of the greater health and wellness goal.”

User-friendly websites, customized member portals and mobile applications are the most visible tools that group benefits carriers are investing in. Jackson says Empire Life’s technology strategy is all about providing timely and relevant support to customers, which includes their eClaims platform and campaigns to promote their online tools and information.

Plan members are now accessing detailed coverage information online, as well as real-time updates on accounts and direct deposit payments. The user experience is intuitive and increasingly interactive, with features such as live chat to help employees access information on demand.

Health and wellness promotion can also benefit from new technologies, as digital media offers new ways to distribute and share information about health issues and initiatives. Streaming video and graphic interfaces resonate with audiences over plain text and traditional print.

For advisor Paul Crossdale of Morrow, Crossdale & Associates, the focus is on better communication about benefits plans to employers and employees. “Technological advancement in the benefits marketplace has exploded in the last five to eight years. Insurance companies continue to spend money on technology; interactive websites, direct deposit, downloadable forms, tutorials, even mobile apps where you can submit claims from your smartphone and access personal information. This all in the hope of improving employee education, engagement and reducing costs.”

In Technology and benefits: Get engaged, we look at how technology can be used to improve plan member engagement.

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Transcontinental Media G.P.