The key to making a private exchange work on an ongoing basis after launch is communication. While this statement may seem obvious, in my experience in an account management role with our clients, I have found the need to continuously reiterate the importance of communication. Once the project is launched, it is easy to assume it can just coast along. But it can’t. Developing and implementing sound communications strategies are necessary for the ongoing success of an exchange.
Below are some of the questions health plan business owners and their private exchange partner should be raising on a regular basis to ensure the private exchange runs smoothly:
- How are the interrelated sales, product, and rating strategies evolving? This means staying in close contact with sales and client management staff, the team responsible for products, and the actuarial/underwriting departments. Typically, the strategy evolves as a result of discussions between all of these functional areas.
- What’s happening in the broker community? In many areas, producers (or agents or brokers) are a key channel through which small and mid-sized businesses decide on coverage. You need to understand why they are recommending use of your private exchange, or if they are not, what barriers they are encountering. It helps to sit down with key players and really listen to their questions and concerns — and then bring that feedback to those working on the sales, product, and rating strategy.
- How does the feedback you are hearing from members, employers, and brokers impact the marketing messaging and materials? Are there themes or questions that keep coming up? Maybe the Frequently Asked Questions section needs to be updated, or maybe you need an additional communication piece that will give people easy access to the information they are looking for. Make sure you are communicating regularly with the marketing and communications staff. They are invaluable partners as the private exchange grows and evolves.
- Are you monitoring documented process flows with all key stakeholders? Typically, flows are outlined during implementation then “put on the shelf.” It’s worth the time and energy to review them on a regular basis to both make sure nothing has changed, and to look for ways to streamline processes. Quarterly touchpoints to ensure the correct contacts are identified in each functional area are helpful. You don’t want to find out that a key contact has moved to another department right when an issue needs to be escalated for resolution. Ensuring strong controls and checks on key integration points such as enrollment and billing data will help avoid last-minute issues.