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Imagine having to send 1,200 paper-based notifications by mail every month all year long. Imagine having to then wait for clients to fill out the forms and send them back. And finally, imagine having to manually sift through all the forms, gather the information and manually update the data about the clients.
Not only is this a huge time-suck, but it can also be costly. And it was a problem HealthPartners Inc., a nonprofit health insurance company located in Bloomington, Minn., wanted to solve.
"We implemented the Microsoft Dynamics tool and the CRM tool in about 2011," said Freda Myhrwold, sales process manager at HealthPartners, referring to a customer relationship management (CRM) system. "We began to realize a need for some sort of document generation tool that we could extend our capabilities for letter templates [and] mailings that we need to do."
Cloud document generation helps meet compliance goals
Having this capability was important for HealthPartners because, Myhrwold explained, as federal mandates come down HealthPartners needs to have the most up-to-date information about its clients. "And so the time-consuming feature of using mail in this case was insurmountable and unacceptable," she said.
For example, Myhrwold said, under the Affordable Care Act a small business group for insurance is considered any employer with one to 50 employees. The definition of small groups was going to expand to include those with as many as 100 employees starting in January 2016 until President Barack Obama amended that proposal to maintain the current limit. Had the change been made HealthPartners would have needed to figure out how many total employees -- not just people participating in the insurance plans the company offers -- each of its clients has in order to figure out which of them is considered a small group.
Asking clients to update such information by postal mail would involve printing 1,200 letters and then having a staff member seal, stamp and send the envelopes. Then, when the responses get mailed back, someone would need to tally the results in the CRM system and determine which underwriter gets the information, Myhrwold said.
HealthPartners doesn't have to go through all that activity anymore. Instead, the company has been using Xpertdoc's Smart Forms -- Web-deployed document generation software that allows people to interact directly with forms for input and output -- for two months now.
Freda Myhrwoldsales process manager, HealthPartners Inc.
The Smart Forms software lets HealthPartners track where and when forms are being filled out, and each online document is timed-stamped, helping HealthPartners see at which point their clients are in the process, as well as situations in which clients may be experiencing frustration. Smart Forms also helps cut down the back and forth between the insurer and the client by automatically providing information already known about the policyholder in the appropriate sections of the form.
"We could utilize a Smart Form to be able to email out to our clients, make it easy for them to enter data that said, 'This is my group size,' and click submit," Myhrwold said. "It provided a lot of quick knowledge we needed to be able to gear up for the next stage of the reform implementation that we had to do," which includes releasing the appropriate plan renewal based on the group size of HealthPartners' clients, information they've collected using Smart Forms.
Tying document generation into CRM
Mark Schwob, senior manager of marketing and sales systems at HealthPartners, added that the company can then integrate the form's row-and-column data into the CRM system.
Data can also be routed from the CRM system to underwriters, a feature that is automated. "[It] was completely hands off from initiation all the way through completion," Schwob said.
In addition to everything being automated, Myhrwold added that HealthPartners also was able to receive frequent updates.
"We had status updates daily as we were going through the process, telling you how many forms are out, how many have been completed, how many have been routed to sales, to underwriting, and we have all the statuses without the internal user having to key in data."
Furthermore, because Xpertdoc, which is based in Terrebonne, Quebec, integrates with the Microsoft Dynamic sCRM tool, it allowed HealthPartners to create dashboards using the fields from the Smart Form so that representatives could track what was happening on a moment-by-moment basis, Myhrwold explained.
"So any time that I open up my CRM dashboard, I know where we are at," she said. "That's a huge savings of time for me."
It's also a cost savings, Myhrwold said. So far, HealthPartners has sent about 1,700 group size verification forms electronically, saving the company money by eliminating the need to print the forms and purchase envelopes and postage. Furthermore, if certain clients didn't respond, HealthPartners would have had to pay to resend the forms, and also devote additional staff time and effort to call those people and track down missing forms. Now, HealthPartners can send reminder emails instead.
"So these seem like small savings, but over the course of time, it will really add up as we continue to use this tool and find other ways we can use it," Myhrwold said.
Schwob said he expects the costs for having Xpertdoc develop HealthPartners' Smart Form to be under $20,000, and he added that he thinks HealthPartners will be able to recoup the cost of implementing Xpertdoc very quickly, predicting that by month three or month four, it will break even.
"[Smart Forms] helped us to refocus our attention on other projects that weren't as simplified," Myhrwold said. "Because we can get our responses quicker … we can get out [our clients'] renewal documents in a more timely fashion. It helps [our clients] with time to make better decisions … as they move into a new world of reform for healthcare."
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