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Revamping and Upgrading Highmark’s Medicare Shopper Experience, Performance, and Architecture

As one of the largest health insurance companies in the U.S. and the fourth-largest Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated company, Highmark Health Plan administers health insurance products in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia, benefitting over 5M members. Highmark wanted to improve performance, stability, integrations with other applications, shopper experience, and satisfaction with their online sales portal for their Medicare offerings. Leadership sought to decrease the total cost of ongoing technical maintenance and ensure the portal’s architecture could meet current and future volume, especially at peak times like annual enrollment. A hybrid cloud and on-premise architecture, and a revamped user interface experience helped the client achieve a seamless AEP, 50 percent increase in portal performance, and greatly enhance the technical backbone and shopper analytics.

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The Challenge:
Medicare Enrollment & Shopping Portal Needed a Better Experience and More Robust, Stable Platform

The client wanted to improve several areas critical to their Medicare enrollment and shopping portal. These included back-end stability, portal performance, data integration, and significantly improving the shopper experience for Medicare product consumers. The existing portal had become unwieldy and costly to maintain and configure. Most importantly, they wanted to ensure that the portal could handle surges in site volume during high-demand periods. Lastly, the client wanted to have a revamped and redesigned portal that could flex and adapt as products, data needs, and consumer preferences change.

“ShopX became a key strategy for the business in 2020 due to a significant COVID impact that shifted a major part of the business to our online platform. ShopX resulted in an incident-free AEP, positive experience for sales agents and consumers, and improved conversion for the Senior Markets in 2020.”

Pankaj Jain
Director of Partner Performance and Implementation
Highmark Health Plan
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The Solution:
Leveraging a Hybrid Architecture with Cloud-Accelerated Design & Development

Varied performance and experience goals across the digital and architecture continuum required a robust and thoughtful solution. SDLC Partners proposed a hybrid architecture, leveraging Cloud and on-premise components, giving the user design and development teams the ability to iterate on the portal redesign and release to production in faster cycles. Also, this architecture leveraged auto-scaling technology that would make high-volume periods easy to accommodate.

Additionally, the hybrid approach using Cloud and on-prem allowed the team to iterate and release in a continuous improvement, continuous development model while ensuring the project and portal complied with regulations regarding security and storage of personal health information.

Through tight collaboration with Highmark’s technology teams, we created a Medicare shopping and enrollment portal that is robust, flexible, and adaptable, providing an entirely new shopper experience as well as building a portal architecture that is less costly to maintain and easier to change as technology, products, and consumer tastes evolve.

“The ShopX implementation in 2020 was only possible through effective collaboration among Senior Markets, SDLC Partners, and Marketing. The ability of these teams to work together allowed Senior Markets to become the first business area to use ShopX. Together, we established a stable and reliable platform with improved user sentiment and faster response times. Thus, allowing Senior Markets to focus on opportunities to improve our business effectiveness and customer experience.”

Dan Kraly
Strategic Deliver and Risk Management Consultant
Highmark Health Plan
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The Results:
Creating an Incident-free AEP and a Medicare Sales Portal Consumers Love 

Our hybrid Cloud and on-prem approach, coupled with having the expertise to simultaneously work on portal architecture and revamping the consumer shopper experience, set up this collaborative team for success. Not only did Highmark’s AEP for 2020 proceed without any incidents, portal performance increased by 50 percent. The new shopping and enrollment portal user experience and design were revamped to be more intuitive and easy-to-navigate for consumers who may not be familiar with shopping for health insurance products online. The new portal architecture enabled a genuine continuous improvement, continuous development life cycle, making releases to production faster, simpler, and instant.

Ultimately, the portal upgrades to architecture and user interface improved shopper satisfaction and reduced the need for telesales calls and retail visits because consumers could meet their needs online, thus saving cost and helping maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today Highmark has a shopping and enrollment portal that’s strong and flexible on the back-end, optimized for online searches and web analytics, and much easier and less costly to maintain and update quickly.

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