Simplifying the Move to a Third-party Print Provider
Ernie Crawford | December 09, 2019
Many insurance companies may share the situation we recently experienced with one of our clients, a Fortune 500 employee benefits provider serving 35 million insureds throughout the U.S. and Europe. While studying its internal operating costs, its executive management began to ask its operations department, “Are we an insurance company or a printing company?”
Although advanced technologies have made printing policies, invoices, confirmations, and required compliance documents faster and more efficient, this same technology has also become more sophisticated, requiring not only specialized hardware and software, but trained and experienced staff to keep it all running smoothly. Rather than continuing to invest in its own production-level printing center, this insurer made the decision to turn over the task to a third-party print service provider (PSP). While the decision was driven by the benefits of reduced cost and enhanced efficiency, the choice also came with a few concerns.
The variety of products the company offers, the number of clients it serves, and the need to meet varied and changing governmental compliance regulations add up to a very high volume of documents being printed monthly, quarterly and yearly. These include dynamic, complex, multi-page and versioned documents such as policies, EOBs (explanation of benefits), financial statements, invoices, correspondence, and even sales and marketing materials, totaling hundreds of millions of compliant documents produced and sent out annually. When they went about choosing a provider with the ability to produce such a high volume of documents, volume was one concern, but not the only one.
Ensuring document integrity
When planning the outsource project, the company needed to ensure that all its print jobs were properly interpreted and onboarded into the provider’s systems. This onboarding process ensures document integrity so that an EOB, for example, is produced complete with all pages, and goes into an envelope that is properly addressed to the correct recipient along with any accompanying documents. Document integrity is critical for insurers to protect the privacy of their clients and to avoid HIPAA violations. This requires all the applications to be converted into a standard format in a process called normalization.
This insurer had approximately 1,800 different applications that require print output. Typically, because every application is handled individually, when dealing with such a large number of applications, the process of normalizing the data to put it in a standard format is both time and labor intensive. Over a period of three years, the insurer had completed the process on about 100 of its applications for in-house production, but now was confronted with the job of getting the other 1,700 applications normalized within three months.
Enter the need for automation
The key objective was to broaden the scale and speed of the normalization process so that eventually all the insurer’s production printing work could be outsourced. The solution for solving the challenges faced in outsourcing was to adopt an automated workflow. To meet this goal, as well as to maintain document integrity, the insurer engaged Crawford Technologies to build an automated workflow for normalizing their print jobs into the format that met the chosen print outsourcer’s requirements.
As an extra quality assurance check, the new workflow solution was developed to make it possible to compare the original files with the files returned from the print service provider after processing. Although many of the files were changed and contained corrected names and addresses for mailing, this component gave the insurer a means to track and monitor the files for accuracy through preliminary test runs.
Using the new automated workflow solution, the task of onboarding the enterprise’s 1,800 applications was completed in just a little over three months, a significant reduction in the time and work hours necessary to carry out the project manually. Today, all the company’s production print work is done by the print outsourcer, eliminating the need and expense for a comprehensive in-house production environment and allowing the insurer to focus on its core business.
Insurers considering a move of their print production to a third-party service provider need to carefully evaluate the pre-work that needs to be done to ensure that document integrity is maintained in the process. For this insurer, setting up an automated solution prior to the delivery of its documents to a third party simplified the secure delivery and integrity of its critical customer communications and resulted in reducing the cost of managing them.
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