When Amazon announced it was getting into the healthcare business in 2018, plenty of health insurers sat up and took notice. As the world’s largest e-tailer, Amazon provides the 24/7 availability and lightning fast turnaround consumers want. Increasingly, the convenience and low cost of Amazon Prime is doing more than meeting customer expectations, it’s shaping them. When asked to score industries based on customer satisfaction, consumers gave retailers and tech companies high marks, while health insurers and hospitals ranked near the bottom.

Changing member expectations and government regulations have created a dynamic business environment for healthcare payers with unlimited endpoints and potential consumer markets. Payers who adapt to these changes by adopting the right technology and optimizing their processes have the greatest chance of thriving in today’s evolving healthcare market, while those who lag behind will find themselves struggling to differentiate their brands in a competitive ecosystem.

To provide consumers with 24/7, on-demand access, convenience, and affordable care, health insurers must move from an administrative to a consumer-centric model. Maintaining data security and establishing a single source of truth, while supporting ad hoc, any-channel, interactions that happen in-the-moment are key to reducing service demands, lowering reimbursements, and giving consumers greater control over their healthcare.

Read how this top health insurer sees 330% ROI with Elixir’s cloud solutions here.

To pull off this hat trick, healthcare payers must do more than adopt leading-edge technology; they must fully leverage its capabilities to innovate new paradigms for member service and put one-to-one communication at the center. Digital efforts tend to lead to administrative gold; at the very least, payer innovation with advanced technology will likely still rely upon familiar modernization initiatives that seek to reduce time to market, optimize business processes, and cut costs.

Healthcare payers clearly recognize the vital role that technology plays in driving convenient, low-cost, personalized healthcare. A recent report published in the Harvard Business Review indicates that six out of 10 of healthcare organizations view cloud technology as the key to increasing efficiencies and expanding services. However, disparate systems are impeding efforts to improve the customer experience, with over 90% of organizations storing their information in more than one environment. Slow time to market is also an issue. Over 53% of respondents said it took them 12 months or more to integrate changes and updates into business processes and systems.

Shared services in the cloud resolve many of the challenges healthcare payers face in delivering a seamless customer experience. Gartner defines shared services as “a dedicated unit (including people, processes and technologies) that is structured as a centralized point of service and is focused on defined business functions.” With the emergence of cloud computing, the shared services delivery model has gained a potent new ally. Workforces can now access data and applications from any location, given the right security, and an organization’s assets are centralized in a single repository.

For healthcare organizations looking to provide personalized care while lowering costs, shared services in the cloud have some major advantages over a decentralized organizational model and managed services, including:

  • Improved speed of IT services delivery
  • Lowered total cost of ownership
  • Greater flexibility in responding to market changes
  • Reduced time-to-market for new systems and applications.
  • The ability to share systems using a common platform
  • The ability to access data from multiple locations and break down silos without moving the workforce
  • Quicker response times and broad connections

Cost is another area where the cloud has a serious edge over legacy installations and on premise deployments. Software as a Service (SaaS) pricing models allow users to pay only for what they need with the ability to scale up or down as business needs change, while lowering the cost of entry for implementing new technology. With subscription pricing, even small to medium businesses can take advantage of cost benefits.

While healthcare organizations recognize the enormous potential of the cloud, concerns about interoperability have slowed adoption. To provide a 360˚ view of a patient’s medical history, electronic health records must pull information from multiple, discrete systems and software applications. Rather than hindering this process, the cloud gives payers the ability to connect, exchange, and interpret data through Application Programming Interfaces (API). Using API’s, healthcare organizations can establish a single source of data on which special-use applications or services can be layered in the cloud.

Nor do healthcare payers have to scrap expensive legacy systems to take advantage of the cloud’s capabilities. By partnering with systems integrators and vendors offering cloud-native solutions, healthcare organizations can create a scalable digital ecosystem, enabling adoption of shared services where it makes sense to do so while maintaining legacy systems as needed. A bimodal adoption strategy places healthcare payers in the driver’s seat to reduce errors, provide value-based care, and optimize the customer experience.

Despite the many benefits of the cloud, healthcare payers have been slow to adopt the technology due to security concerns. In a recent Symantec survey, respondents noted that 52% of their workloads are in the cloud, but 54% of respondents reported difficulty keeping up with cloud security. Lack of visibility, immature security practices, and overextended IT were the top reasons for concern.

In recent years, cloud service providers have developed a number of security features to provide greater visibility and access control, including audit logging, dashboards, encryption, and multi-factor authentication. Moreover, the built-in backup and redundancy of the cloud provide superior business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities, including high availability and scalability.

As government mandates and market forces drive adoption of customer-centric, value-based care, healthcare payers must optimize processes while engaging and educating plan members through a holistic customer experience that includes personalized, any-channel communications. By adopting a shared services delivery model that leverages the cloud for customer communications, healthcare payers can move from the back of the pack to become industry leaders.

Learn how this medium-sized healthcare payer automates their ANOC and EOC communications, saving weeks of time. Read the full story here