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Collaborative Effort: Adjusting to Distanced Document Management

Remote work is here to stay. While many organizations were caught flat-footed when global forces prompted the sudden shift to out-of-office operations, overall outcomes have been largely positive. In fact, tech-forward organizations such as Facebook and Twitter have announced that most staff members won’t be required to report back to work in-person. Instead, they’re welcome to work from home permanently.

Insurance companies have also seen marked success in remote work. As noted by Fortune, after the initial madness of moving 98% of its workforce to work-from-home over a period of five days in March, privately held insurance firm Nationwide found that its key performance indicators (KPIs) remained consistent, prompting the company to offer permanent work-from-options and shrink its physical office footprint from 20 offices to five.

Despite evidence of sustainable, socially-distanced productivity, however, not every American insurer can claim adaptive, at-home success. Driven by the industry’s historic reluctance to fully adopt digital transformation initiatives, remote work has created a digital divide between evolving collaboration efforts and existing document management processes. 

So how do companies effectively adjust to digital-first document management and consistent remote collaboration? Let’s break down some of the biggest potential pitfalls and possible process solutions to help insurance organizations navigate the new operational ordinary.


Considering Critical Components

According to a recent PWC whitepaper, deriving sustained value from digital transformation remains one of the top issues for insurance companies. The primary roadblock? Delivering a seamless client experience across multiple digital channels. Adding work-from-home into the mix only complicates this process, making it critical for companies to identify key collaboration components before deploying new tools or technology.

First is centralization. As noted by CMS Wire, centralizing collaboration strategy can help reduce solution sprawl and ensure staff have access to the tools they need, when they need them. Next is staff input. Insurance organizations developing more permanent remote work programs are best-served by asking employees what they need to effectively complete day-to-day tasks and what current solutions don’t measure up.

Finally, it’s essential for insurers to measure KPIs that affect the output of collaboration tools. Metrics might include total claims processed, average error rates, or overall client satisfaction — but no matter the numbers chosen, consistent monitoring and management is fundamental to reduce the risk of remote work frustration.


Confronting Coverage Gaps

While insurance firms have taken necessary first steps to navigate the new normal of digital workspaces, they’re now confronting key coverage gaps in existing collaboration processes. As noted by Insurance Business Magazine, most companies remain focused on recreating familiar office environments online while maintaining regular office hours. But long-term, socially distant success depends on a higher-level functionality that takes full advantage of virtual office potential. 

Achieving this goal starts by recognizing what’s missing in current document management efforts, such as:

  • Onboarding New Clients Ensuring financial stability means seeking out and onboarding new clients in the midst of new normal operations — in turn making this process anything but normal. Here, staff need solutions capable of capturing client data from both digital and physical forms using adaptive processes such as optical character recognition (OCR) and optical mark recognition (OMR).
  • Processing Digital ClaimsWithout the ability to simply walk down the hall and ask for collaborative input, staff need the ability to collaborate on claim processes at scale. This requires robust annotation and change history solutions to help ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to digital claims processing.
  • File ReconciliationWith firms now embracing almost-entirely digital documentation — whether they want to or not — file reconciliation is critical. From complete document histories to centralized file storage, it’s critical to ensure claim assessments, approvals, and payouts agree across diverse digital environments.
  • Customer Data SecurityInsurance regulations have evolved to protect digital data sources. The NAIC Insurance Data Security Model Law requires companies to develop and deploy data defense policies that help limit potential consumer risk. While IT security tools such as access control and two-factor authentication form part of this effort, it’s also critical for companies to deploy document management solutions that provide protections such as burn-in redaction that are capable of entirely obfuscating critical client data on-demand.

Conquering Collaborative Challenges

Here, the solution itself rests with collaboration. More specifically, insurance firms need a way to bridge digital process gaps by integrating key functions into existing systems and solutions, instead of simply adding new applications that live outside current ecosystems. Achieving this goal requires a joint effort across application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) that empower organizations to achieve key reporting, reconciliation, and revenue goals under a unified interface umbrella. 

For example, while it’s possible to improve claims processing by giving remote staff access to standalone document viewer applications, this forces them to shift focus and adds a layer of complexity when it comes to sharing the digital outcome of any document data capture, annotation, or redaction. Advanced SDKs and APIs, meanwhile, make it possible to empower the same functionality under the auspices of existing application infrastructure, in turn allowing staff to collaborate anytime, anywhere.

Remote work isn’t going anywhere, and insurance companies are now on the forefront of digital document management. To deliver success at distance and scale, companies must identify critical components, consider coverage gaps, and deploy solutions capable of conquering collaborative challenges.