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December 15, 2020

How Transparency, Technology and Data Analytics Are Transforming Employee Benefits [Part 4]

Artemis Health

Artemis Health and BenefitsPro recently hosted a discussion on on transparency, technology, and data analytics in the employee healthcare industry. We wanted to share some of the insights from this webcast panel, which featured Artemis Health CEO Grant Gordon. This is the final installment in this series, and you catch up on Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

In addition to Grant, the panel included Rion Shearer, Senior Employee Benefits Consultant at USI Insurance Services, and Lester J. Morales, Co-founder and CEO of Next Impact. Let’s dive into their discussion. 

Paul Wilson:

Thanks so much Grant. And before you go, I just wanted to ask you real quickly, you talked a little bit about this, but you know, there's a lot of momentum around transparency and data right now, but of course in this industry, there's also a lot of pushback and it's a lot of change, so it's going to take a while.

What are you seeing around the receptivity to these new ideas, among brokers or employers, or even the providers themselves? You talked a little bit about some of the legal ramifications with providers, but, are you seeing change starting to happen, and how open are the different parties to these ideas?

Grant Gordon:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think employers are driving this, so they're definitionally open to it and not concerned. I think we see a spectrum of brokers. I think there are brokers, like the forward-thinking ones that we heard from today and some that we partner with, and many, many others that are excited about this and pushing for it that believe that data is owned by the employer. And that's a big deal. I think, I mean like any industry, there are folks who aren't as interested in that and, and think that the way they do it today is fine.

And I think eventually, natural market forces will bring them along. You know, I think carriers sort of swing every few years, they swing back and forth between being totally compliant about this stuff and putting up a little bit of a fight. I think the key is, it's easy to make these relationships adversarial. And a lot of what we focus on to speed these things up is to figure out how, as an intermediary, how can we create value for all sides, including health plans? Can we share insights back with them? If we help them look better, and in cases where they deserve to look better, in addition to being transparent and holding them accountable for things, we try to do that. And I think that's the right position to take is all buds can rise if we use data properly.

Paul Wilson:

Yeah. That's a great point. I mean, I want to actually get Lester and Rion's thoughts on that idea as well, because I know you guys work with people who are all along the spectrum of change. Some people are very receptive, other people are very reluctant. So can you guys talk a little bit about, just how you've worked with employers or, in your case Lester, working with brokers to kind of get from where they are to where they need to be and do it in a gentle way?

Lester Morales:

Yeah, Rion, I'll go first. I don't know that my way is overly gentle. So I think it's one of those things for me, Paul, that everybody has their niche, right? Everybody has what fires them up, and it gets them warm and fuzzy, right? And so I think understanding who you are and having a purpose drives the decision of what you want to do as an advisor, and therefore your target market as employers. An employer who says, “I'm just not willing to do XYZ for me.” So things for me that I won't do, a fully insured group. I can't do anything. I add no value, like collecting a paycheck and getting a commission check doesn't fire me up anymore.

I think our job as advisors is to educate the world out there that, there's just certain things that can and can't be done. And based on an employer's willingness to do those things, for me, dictates who I want to work with. And the advisor even more, right? There are advisors you deal with every day that are worried about collecting a paycheck and a paycheck only, to the point that they're asking questions, well, how will this affect my compensation or my override?

So, I think I agree that meeting the client where they are is a statement, but I also think being an advisor, part of your job is telling clients what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. And that, at least when I was at Willis, was my advice or my style is look, you might not want to give me a Christmas card after my advisory, and we don't necessarily have to be drinking buddies after this. But the reality of it is, I want to put on my loafers every day and I'm going to bring you the very best strategies that I can do. And it's your job to tell me if they fit culture or if you're ready for them. But, what I never wanted to do, and Rion hit on it big time, is I never wanted to get caught surprised with that shiny new toy that a broker brought something in on the back door.

So I think it's all about personal preference and being super excited to add value and what your definition of added value is.

Paul Wilson:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I was talking to a broker the other day and he made a comparison to the idea of a personal trainer. And he said, when somebody is working, whether they're working with a broker, an advisor or a personal trainer, they want to be a little bit sore at the end of the day, in order to get change, you have to kind of get pushed out of that comfort zone. So I thought that was a good way of looking at it. Rion, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this whole idea of kind of, moving people from where they are to where they need to be.

Rion Shearer:

I'd agree with everything that Lester said and offer two or three other additional key points. Key point number one, I think you've got to get to the CFO as your prospect or client. They think differently, they're looking at the numbers. They're concerned with a variety of factors around costs. They're able to, for the most part, remove some of the emotional component, at least on the front end. So, that's key number one, get to the CFO, get to the controller, get to someone who is watching the dollars and sees the writing on the wall. And we'll do what's necessary to take action.

The second thing I would say is keep it simple. Get some data from a vendor, a partner, or a current client, and go into that prospect and keep it very simple, to the point that if I show you this data, and this is where your health plan is going, and I can do X, Y, and Z to mitigate that, you're going to have a much different conversation than going through your PowerPoint deck around how great your firm is and the services that you can provide. Tell them the story, tell them real life examples, give them a case study, focus on the financial impact.

You're going to have a much better dialogue and a way different conversation than your competition.

Paul Wilson:

Yeah, that's good. So when you guys were talking about scraping EOBs earlier in your presentations, we got several questions that came in about just the technical side of that. Basically, how does it work, does each employee at the company have to get permission, or is there another way to go about doing that when you're looking to do that?

Lester Morales:

Yeah, it definitely individualizes that because the individual person is having to give permission for their EOBs to get scraped. And for everybody that rolled your eyes, or thought that that's too much work, I'm going to say shame on you. Because the reality of it is, what other options do you have? So we already look back on the past and say, what we've done thus far has gotten us into the crap mess that we're in today. What other options do we have to be able to fight the unknown? And somebody, the bank if you will, is carrying all the cards. So this is the only way. So whether we're talking about personal health questionnaires, or this strategy about scraping the data, what other options are there? And again, adding value requires doing something different. If we can't get the data the normal way, there are only a couple of different options.

Grant Gordon:

Yeah, and I'll just jump in and just add a little color on that. We look at this as well, our customers tend to be a little bit larger. I think you got to use the right tool for the right job, so if you think about scraping data out of portals, I think it especially works well in smaller companies where you can kind of get everyone rallied around, “Hey, we're not going to see this data, but you know, for a broker that can help us get a better deal in terms of…” It's like, it becomes harder at larger scale. And you have to assume that you're not going to get complete data because not everybody's going to do it. So you have to do it, understanding that the problems that you can solve need to be solvable using data that's not 100% complete.

Paul Wilson:

Yeah. That makes sense. For sure. So we have like a minute or so left, so I'm going to try that. I'm going to ask you a big question and ask you to answer it as quickly as possible. So basically what is the role of the employee in all this? Can you talk a little bit about communicating with the employee and motivating the employee to play their role in this whole idea of transparency and using this data?

Lester Morales:

Yeah. I'll go quick. I mean, I think it's the same thing as the employer, we’ve got to stop complaining about there's no other options, and I'll pop them, whatever, whatever, whatever, if we're not going to do something about it, it's called personal accountability. And the example that I will draw in the individual employee is when they go get their auto insurance, they have to submit their driving records. When they go get their mortgage, they had to get their finances and their credit report. This is nothing more than what we do in every other aspect of our lives. We're just bringing it into a space that has fooled us and insulated us from all of this data.

Paul Wilson:

Yeah. That's perfect. Rion, did you have anything you wanted to add real quickly to that?

Rion Shearer:

Yeah. As the advisor, I think the onus is on you a little bit. When you have engagement with employees to share shared data with them, show them that if we don't do anything, we're going to see continued increases. And that means higher employee premium contributions and increased deductibles, and that we either have to do something or shut up and accept that the fact that costs will continue going up. And I think more employers need to take more of a proactive role in sharing data and insight to the employee level so they understand it and know why you're making certain decisions.

Paul Wilson:

Yeah. That's perfect. Yeah. That's all I had to get teamwork. I think that's a great place to leave it. So, unfortunately that's all the time we have today, but I would like to thank everyone for joining us and we hope it was really valuable to you. Also, a special thanks again to Lester Morales and Rion Shearer for their time and insights. And thank you again to Artemis Health for their support today. If you've missed any part of this presentation, remember it will be archived shortly so you can view it again or refer someone else to it. So have a great afternoon, everyone. Thank you so much.

Thanks for reading this blog post series on technology and transparency in healthcare data analytics. Want to learn more about Artemis Health’s software platform? Watch our 2-minute demo video now. 

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Excerpted from How Transparency, Technology and Data Analytics Are Transforming Employee Benefits, published on October 7th. ©  2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved.

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