Oct 27, 2021

A new world of benefits: how insurance carriers stay agile in the digital marketplace

Scalable API connectivity is the leading replacement for dated EDI connections amongst benefits carriers. In this article, Noyo VP of Operations Stephanie Pinto discusses network infrastructure's role in the future of benefits technology.

The first article in this series covered the technology trends shaping the consumer side of the market and how network infrastructure is enabling connectivity across the benefits ecosystem (check out our market map here).

In this article, we explore how insurance carriers are meeting consumer demand for modern, seamless experiences and the role network infrastructure is playing in transitioning technology behind-the-scenes. For many carriers, the question is how to chart a pragmatic path forward without missing the moment or falling into the trap of slideware solutions.

With years of experience on both the payer and benefits software sides of the market, we explored this question with Noyo VP of Operations Stephanie Pinto. She explains, “No one should expect insurance businesses to transform overnight. The goal is to become an adept, agile contender in the digital marketplace... adapting systems and responding to change isn’t just about what’s happening now; it’s also about being ready for what happens next.”

Stephanie, we hear a lot of talk about new technologies in insurance, what’s actually happening?

API is quite the buzzword right now, and rightfully so. APIs have been around for a long time, and many industries have fundamentally changed because of the level of automation and interoperability they provide. Today, the transformation that’s already happened in other industries, such as financial services (payments, banking, investing, etc.), is happening in insurance. For insurance, it’s more a question of how and when, rather than if—the companies that get to market quickly with scalable API solutions are best positioned to win.

AI and robotic processing automation are other emerging technologies that have enormous potential to reduce the heavy and expensive administrative burden of insurance. But that also means less human oversight day to day, which requires carriers to completely rethink their teams and systems. When you consider the error rate, and ultimately, the operational costs of the legacy technology that’s in place today, it’s clear this will have a huge impact on not just efficiency, but the member experience overall.

How is regulatory pressure affecting the imperative to adopt new technologies?

The regulatory portion of healthcare business is pushing all elements of the insurance industry to be more efficient with usage of data, as well as to use that data to create more accessible, transparent consumer experiences.

Because it’s so heavily regulated, the health insurance industry tends to be quite risk-averse, especially when it comes to core business systems. An interesting dimension to this is that modern infrastructure can actually help companies respond more quickly in a regulated environment, which can be a major competitive advantage.

So specifically for APIs, what is the role network infrastructure is playing in that transition?

Network infrastructure, as a technology category, is about providing a path to technology-led, distributed data exchange, which we know the industry needs. It’s solving one of the biggest hurdles for insurance companies to overcome, and that’s the barrier of entry.

For example, moving from EDI to API involves a steady transition of very complex data structures. The advantages of network infrastructure solutions, and a partner like Noyo, are twofold: 1) carriers have a single, one-to-many source to plug their existing systems into that unlocks wide distribution. When you consider the investment to build and scale API infrastructure that flexibly integrates with any player in the market, this is really powerful. 2) Noyo has solved for the complexities of transitioning virtually every type of insurance system (EDI 834, XML, portals, paper-based systems, and more). This is where many carriers struggle to get started because every step, from installation to renewal, needs to be reimagined with APIs.

And every carrier’s system is different. Our approach at Noyo is to come to the table with solutions that meet you where you are and progressively take you to where you need to be: an adept, agile contender in the digital healthcare marketplace.

As carriers evaluate different ways to transform systems, what makes one solution better than another?

I’ve done a lot of technology vendor evaluations, and frankly, what’s often marketed as “a stepping stone” ends up being slideware, meaning it offers marginal benefit and more complexity. I’d be wary of any solution that hasn’t been tested in the marketplace and hasn’t achieved the true end-state: fully-integrated API connectivity among a broad network of partners. Noyo is a thought partner for what API-assisted data exchange can achieve because we’ve built and scaled the path to real API connectivity for carriers of all shapes and sizes.

And no one should expect insurance businesses to transform overnight. That’s why having a technology partner that understands and is empathetic toward large and established companies is so essential. In our client partnerships, it’s easy to see the benefits of being early and open-minded because each relationship brings fresh ideas that benefit the entire network of partners.

Is there anything you think is missing from the conversation, what opportunities are standing in front of us that we may not see?

2020 was a pivotal year for all of us. Everyone went remote; something that I think all carriers felt. It wasn’t just internal employees but also patients and employers. The rise of telehealth is one of many examples. Everyone is now reliant on technology, even more than before.

The insurance industry shouldn’t downplay this shift. It’s such an exciting opportunity to capitalize on change because the demand is there. Where are consumers? They’re on their phone, connected to their computer, managing their life through video, voice, and text. Adapting systems and responding to this change isn’t about what’s happening now; it’s also about being prepared for what happens next.

This extends beyond improving access to coverage and into how carriers retain customers as well. Can the market sustain the growth of healthcare costs? Where will consumers go as new technologies drive costs down? How has that played out in other industries? I look to interoperability, transparency, and digital innovation as major levers in enabling the experiences that increase customer loyalty.

One last thing: At the end of all this, we never forget there is a person receiving healthcare. As we’ve all experienced at some point, cumbersome, hard to navigate systems produce many bad experiences among the good. The point of Noyo, and our mission to build the network infrastructure the industry needs, is to strive for better health outcomes for as many people as possible.

Learn how you can partner with Noyo to transform your benefits distribution strategy, no matter the tech you rely on today. Explore our carrier solutions or get started here.

If you do benefits, you need Noyo

The future of employee benefits is faster, easier, and more automated. Are you ready?