Top 10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a CDH Platform

For health plans, third party administrators and financial institutions that administer CDH accounts, the selection of an account administration platform, as well as the investment in time and money required to convert an existing portfolio, is significant. If you’re looking to embark on a brand new automation journey or just considering changing vendors, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 questions to ask when choosing a CDH platform.

1. Is your system an integrated system or a single system?
An integrated system is an amalgamation of tools from multiple partnerships and/or acquisitions (bolted-on solutions). While this approach enables a vendor to offer an end-to-end solution, there may be important pieces of functionality that come from disparate technologies and platforms that, at a minimum, disrupt the consumer experience or, at worst, create unnecessary risks. In many cases, at least some functions, like card processing or HSA record keeping may be outsourced and will rely on batch processing, creating data latencies that can be frustrating for consumers and support staff alike. Additionally, attempting to manage multiple roadmaps and releases across different enterprises can affect system availability and reliability.

A single solution, on the other hand, contains all of the essential end-to-end account administration functions natively. This approach ensures real time processing across-the-board, meaning consumers can benefit from real time notifications and alerts and no data discrepancies across channels created by latent updates, making them easier to support. The ability to work with a single vendor means less time managing vendor relationships and greater flexibility in system configuration to differentiate yourself against competitors by designing a unique, comprehensive and branded consumer engagement experience.

2. Can you deliver a consistent, fully-branded experience at any time and through any channel?
Your platform should support any one of a number of branding strategies, including employer-branding, client-branding or employer “powered by” the client branding. Alegeus research shows that consumers engage with their CDH accounts 40 to 50 times a year. If you consider that each of those interactions represents an opportunity to further engage consumers and create stickiness, you can see how important branding is.

Consumers also interact with plans and accounts via a number of devices and channels, including PC, smartphone and tablet, as well as through print, electronic and POS communications, tools and resources. 24/7 access to accounts and information at the channel of the consumer’s choosing is no longer a “nice-to-have,” it’s an expectation. Your technology partner should help you strengthen your share of the consumer mind by allowing you to brand every touchpoint accessed by the consumer, not just through single sign on, but through constant reinforcement of your unique brand and value proposition, as well as a consistent user interface.

3. What is the scope of automation your system supports?
CDH account automation involves much more than enabling debit card access. The more processes that can be automated from beginning to end will increase your operational efficiency – and accuracy – exponentially. The best system offers automation for enrollments and renewals and other claims administration, plan options, reimbursements and reporting, and communications, including alerts, education, reimbursements and substantiation.

4. Can your platform handle complex plans?
One of the primary value propositions of HRAs is that they are highly configurable; however, some platform systems are unable to manage complex plan configurations without the need to open development request tickets with the vendor. The best system enables complex plan design through configuration within the software itself. If your platform technology is limiting your product development capabilities, you should consider other options.

5. How does the platform manage HSAs?
Health plans are often comprised of a number of facets, including the benefit plan itself, the financial account, wellness programs, and transportation benefits, to name a few. All of these moving pieces and parts put the consumer experience at great risk if not integrated, but none more so than a disjointed HSA management experience. As the industry moves further along the path to increased consumer financial responsibility and healthcare decision-making, the HSA moves to front and center of the consumer experience, bridging the transition from plan utilization to saving and spending.

Your CDH platform should ensure a single experience across account types, along with program flexibility. Automation, analytics and consistent handling of all plan aspects, including enrollment, contributions, distributions and investments will strengthen your brand and improve consumer loyalty.

6. Do your debit card capabilities maximize flexibility to create a competitive advantage?
Partnering with an industry-leading platform partner with vertical expertise can make all the difference to debit card adoption and use by consumers. Where the HSA can be considered the cornerstone of the CDH relationship, the debit card is the cornerstone of HSA interaction. If you make it easy for consumers to access funds to consume healthcare, you’ll create a strong affinity for your plan in their minds. Look for a partner who can strengthen your debit card program and create a competitive advantage through:

  • Tying access to all accounts (FSA, HRA, HSA, transit, wellness incentives, etc.) for eligible expenses to one card.
  • Single system, real time processing so consumers have 24/7 up to date account information.
  • Maximum flexibility for customization and authorization rules down to the consumer level.
  • Real time ability to control merchant category codes, view authorizations and denials, and make exceptions.
  • Flexible branding options (brand by employer, client or employer powered by client).
  • Adopting mobile payment technology (Apple Pay, Google Wallet, etc.).

7. To what extent does the platform facilitate consumer engagement?
A single system that helps you administer CDH accounts from end-to-end will also give you a leg-up when it comes to engagement. Aside from the ability to better control plan and system configuration and to own the entire engagement experience, you’ll also have the power to leverage timely and relevant alerts to build loyalty. The ability to engage with consumers in real time at the point of sale, with a card transaction denial, for example, then to follow up immediately with a text message showing them that their balance is too low to complete the transaction, not only saves a support phone call, but provides an elevated service experience for the consumer. Real time capabilities combined with geo-location abilities also offers the chance to proactively engage consumers. You can send proactive alerts, for example, when the consumer is within close proximity to a pharmacy where they have a prescription ready to be collected.

8. Beyond technology, how will the vendor enable your success?
Ideally, the partnership with your CDH platform vendor should extend well beyond technology. Administering health plans and accounts is highly complex. A wealth of valuable analytic information and industry expertise resides with your platform vendor. There are many other ways your technology partner can facilitate your growth and success, including:

  • Sales, marketing and communications support
  • Enrollment support
  • Back office and claim processing
  • Employer and member support
  • Performance benchmarking
  • Strategic engagements
  • Tier 1/2 call center support
  • Document management

9. Does the vendor have a proven implementation track record?
Whether you are implementing a CDH platform technology for the first time or converting to a new system, the implementation process is complex. Your vendor should be able to outline a specific and comprehensive implementation project plan with a timeline that includes elements to minimize risk, educate and onboard operations, marketing and sales, proactively and accurately manage third-party integrations, understand the client’s operating workflow and advise on appropriate system configurations, and meet regulatory compliance requirements.

10. Does the system offer security, reliability, scalability and innovation to support your growth objectives?
When performing due-diligence for potential technology partners, you should review recent release notes to determine if continuous investments are being made in features and functionality upgrades, or if the solution appears to be in more of a maintenance mode. Innovation can take the form of system enhancements as well as strategic partnerships and alliances that leverage best-in-class vertical expertise.

Additionally, your platform should be configurable to grow with you and scalable so as not to become a hindrance to growth. Outgrowing your platform can lead to decreased reliability and increased down time. Ask about the vendor’s service level objectives (SLOs) for uptime and reliability.

The bottom line is that you’ll be embarking on more than the simple implementation of new software – you’ll be entering into a long-term holistic relationship that can either stifle your business growth or accelerate it. A trusted partner will transcend technology and work closely with you in a strategic manner to help guide your growth through industry insights, elevated consumer engagement, strong brand presence and market leadership.

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