As Microsoft's healthcare business strategy unfolds, the company has announced the release of the Health Plan Sales Solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which is a sales and service-enabled customer relationship management platform that enables health plans to move their marketing and sales processes online.
The CRM platform will help health plans better manage and monitor sales, member services, and retention which will, Microsoft executives say, help companies compete in the individual and small group market; reduce multiple points of failure in their current sales, service, and retention processes; and interoperate with state health insurance exchanges.
Details of Microsoft's latest product for the health insurance industry were revealed last week at the annual America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) conference in Las Vegas.
With the passage of healthcare reform legislation earlier this year, health insurance companies have shown greater interest in CRM technology, said Janice Young, program director for IDC Health Insights.
"What we are noticing is that health plans have very much prioritized the improvement and Web enablement of online sales and marketing, enrollment, and billing," Young said. "It is one of those priorities that we are seeing health plans focus on over the last six months, and all of our survey data indicates that there has been tremendous interest there. Microsoft is clearly targeting a solution to a market that is ready and interested in investing," Young added.
Young also said that as state health information exchanges develop and the number of insured Americans increases, the need to have a robust automated system, particularly for comparing health plans and enrolling in them, will be very important.
"The current enrollment and billing process is not well integrated in health plans, it's not well automated, and it certainly does not allow for the kind of efficiency and comparability of different plans that the customer market is getting used to and demanding," Young said.