What the future of cloud computing holds for health insurance companies

By Nathan Eddy
08:57 AM
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IaaS and SaaS offerings are enabling payers to run analytics against claims and other data in new ways that enable them to operate more efficiently.

With the increasing importance of analytics and data management, a cloud-first mentality is ideally suited for health insurers, who are using the technology to streamline operations, reduce costs, and better interact with their customers.

At the same time, the move toward value-based care means claims-based data and analytics can provide a comprehensive view of an insurer’s transactions by aggregating claims across healthcare plans.

WHY IT MATTERS

For commercial payers to accomplish shifts of huge magnitude, software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provide scalable solutions that don’t require on premises infrastructure investments.

“Cloud based technology lets insurers run the business more efficiently — to go from centralized, rigid control without flexibility, to migrating toward tech and tools to create efficiencies for the customer,” said, Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute.

The idea is that payers have more control over their information, which gives them the ability to look at things from different angles so they can make different choices.

“We’re starting to see these types of tools that bring together more opportunities for consumers,” he said.

BREAKING DOWN SILOS TO CONNECT SYSTEMS

Health insurance companies are starting to harness the power of cloud-based data analytics to better understand their customers and their own business, as they come under increasing pressure to run their operations more efficiently.

“Payers for the last 5-6 years have been under increasing cost pressures, and as the data center is a ripe way to execute some cost reductions, we’ve seen in the last five years payers moving from a cloud-last approach to a cloud-first approach,” said Jeff Rivkin, IDC research director for payer IT strategies.

He noted a lot of packaged apps are, in actuality, only being offered in a SaaS environment, which means payers who want time-saving, nimble applications will need to turn to cloud providers anyway.

“Payers are trying to break down silos and connect systems of record, from claims to product to customers, and if you want to bring them together to make systems of engagement, be it with mobile, or the internet of things, cloud is the way to go,” Rivkin said.

Avoiding the upfront infrastructure costs need to be balanced by payers who must to infuse a tremendous amount of data to try and get a better idea of their customers as patients and as people — as customers paying for a service.

“There was the fear of losing data ownership, and the security breaches of 2015-16, gave insurers more reason to be possessive, but over time we’ve seen the big tech companies who provide cloud services are better at security than the organizations who do it in their own data center,” Rivkin said.

MARKET TRANSITION

Rivkin explained currently the health insurance market is in a hybrid transition, knocking down data silos built into the in-house legacy systems.

“Payers are trying to build customer engagement systems and value based care plans, infuse data into the organization — such as clinical data to get a better picture of your members — the cloud allows for that seamless integration,” Rivkin noted.  

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.

Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com

Twitter: @dropdeaded209 

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.