Microsoft Launches Health Insurance CRM

The customer relationship management platform enables health plans to manage and monitor their marketing and sales processes and interoperate with state health insurance exchanges.

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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.

Microsoft executives said their CRM strategy for health insurance companies takes into account the recently passed healthcare legislation which will expand insurance coverage to 32 million Americans, 24 million of whom will be enrolled through exchanges by 2019, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. The drive toward universal health insurance coverage means health insurance companies will operate in an even more competitive marketplace where companies will have to offer quality products and services to take market share and increase revenue.

Dennis Schmuland, Microsoft's director of U.S. health plan industry solutions, said changing regulations will require health plans to focus on winning market share and loyalty through adaptive and efficient sales processes and offering an exceptional customer experience. Health plans must also integrate sales and service processes with each health insurance exchange in 2014.

According to Microsoft, the Health Plan Sales Solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an interoperable framework that integrates with existing systems and applications. Partners can pre-integrate their solution to offer health plans a seamless workflow across different applications, and a number of Microsoft's trusted partners, including Ingenix, CosmoCom, VUE Software, and Colibrium Partners, are already supporting this framework.

The platform enables insurers to design and deploy a complete CRM strategy that spans acquisition, retention, health and care management, and service, and it integrates social media sites into the sales, service, and retention processes.

With the platform, payers can reduce custom legacy integration costs and leverage their existing investment in both Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies. In addition, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution can be deployed wholly on-premises, in Microsoft's cloud computing platform, or as a hybrid solution that provides the flexibility, improved security, and cost management that health plans want.

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