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February 4, 2020

Your Guide: How Innovative Benefits Brokers Choose An Enterprise Data Warehouse Solution

Artemis Health

“The most expensive software you’ll ever purchase is the software that no one uses.”

Health and benefits professionals are living in a constantly shifting landscape. This is especially true for benefits brokers who are serving large, self-insured employers. Just when you think you’ve achieved stable footing in your strategy and recommendations, a new “earthquake” in the form of trendy programs, chronic health concerns, or rising expenses forces you to reevaluate where you and your client stand. It’s what makes your job as a benefits advisor challenging, exciting, and yes, frustrating.

You and your clients place a high value on health data analytics. You know that data is the key to evaluating existing benefits programs, finding opportunities for healthcare cost containment, or justifying new programs. But you also know that finding an enterprise data warehouse solution is a tremendous undertaking. It requires: 

  • Evaluating available vendors
  • Hours of meetings, calls, and presentations
  • Conducting a lengthy RFP process
  • Getting “sandbox” access to try the tools
  • Aligning with company goals and strategies
  • Integrating dozens of data feeds
  • Training your team

Your time is already at a premium, so you can’t afford to make this decision lightly. In this whitepaper, you’ll learn the key considerations and criteria you should use to help your enterprise clients evaluate, select, implement, and support a new benefits data platform. We’ll focus on the following critical traits of an effective analytics tool: 

  • Access to All, Actionable Data 
  • A Positive User Experience for Everyone 
  • A Holistic View of Health Analytics 

Access to All, Actionable Data

Traditionally, data warehouses provide “snapshots” or status reports that allow you to see what’s happening right now. However, some data warehouses do a better job of identifying why something is happening, and what steps you can take to impact it. 

Look for a data analytics platform that gathers all of your data into one location and allows you to easily look across different data feeds. This will help you move beyond, “What’s happening?” to “What can I do about it?” 

So how can a benefits broker or consultant get assurances that they’ll get this kind of actionable data from a benefits data warehouse? Here are some key questions to ask during the evaluation or RFP. 

Key Questions to Ask

  • How is your data warehouse solution-focused instead of report-focused?
  • Can your tool show us not only what is going on with benefits data, but also why it is happening?
  • Provide examples of how you are able to crosswalk or look across groups of individuals across different data feeds.
  • What type of data quality checks and processes do you have?

A Positive User Experience for Everyone

Remember when you had to pop a disk into your computer and type a complex code to open a piece of software? Well, those days are long gone. As they should be. When evaluating a data vendor, you should ensure the tools are easy and comfortable to use. A great data solution should be designed to be used by both novices and experts, ideal for advisors who do most analyses for their clients but still have employers who want to dive into some standard reports on their own. 

Speed is also a key consideration. You need to work quickly and efficiently to find the answers to your benefits questions. Make sure the data vendors you evaluate are focused on providing insights fast. 

Once you have great insights or a visual business case for a new program, you need to be able to share it with the right people. Look for a tool that enables secure, visual sharing inside the tool with the CHRO, VP of HR, benefits teams, analysts, actuaries, finance, and anyone else at your client’s organization who needs access.

Key Questions to Ask

  • How does your data warehouse consider both novice and power users?
  • What experience do we need to use and get benefit out of your tool? (e.g. analysts background, actuarial background, etc.)
  • What training do you provide? How long does it take to get comfortable using your data warehouse?
  • Can my entire team have access? Consultants? Finance? C-Suite? How is the data and insights shared between different users?

A Holistic View of Health Analytics

The average employer now has 10+ benefit programs, and each of those comes with its own handy data feed. A competitive data warehouse vendor should help you positively impact the health and wellness of your clients and their employees through support for all health and benefits analytics. 

Not only do you want all of the data in one location, but you also want a platform that enables looking across data feeds for comprehensive, holistic, and trustworthy insights. 

  • Identify Opportunities. A successful data platform will allow your team to identify problems clearly through pre-built models and content that will bubble up answers for you. 
  • Build the Case. You not only should be able to run analyses with pivot tables and SQL, but you should be able to easily look across the different data types without requiring additional professional services. A great platform will help you build the case for your benefits recommendations and share your findings with the right people. 
  • Measure Results - Finally, you should be able to run analyses like matched pair cohorts inside the platform to measure your success. A great data warehouse solution enables you to justify strategic adjustments to get better utilization out of any benefit plan or program.

Key Questions to Ask

  • What do you do beyond running queries and generating reports to help support the entire benefit analysis process?
  • What tools do you provide to perform analyses by cross-walking or looking across different data sources?
  • How can you create dashboards or reports inside of your tool? How can they be shared? How are they stored or archived?
  • How does your data warehouse facilitate our strategic relationship with consultants and brokers?
  • Can the data be easily exported to use for other analytic initiatives?

Evaluating a benefits data partner is a big undertaking, and Artemis Health understands the hurdles benefits advisors and their enterprise clients face. We do our best to approach any evaluation process with clear information, open communication, and a dedication to service. We hope this guide will help you feel confident in taking the next steps when evaluating an enterprise data warehouse solution. 

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