Published: Apr 9, 2018
By: Bruce Shutan
Originally Published: Employee Benefits Advisor April 02 2018, 10:20pm EDT
Alecia Nash, an independent benefits broker and founder of HippaWare, LLC, has heard many fellow brokers gripe about doing twice the amount of paperwork and not making as much money because of the need to hire more support staffers.
"There's a lot of technology out there, but it's focused on the employee group or end user and not workflow in the office," she says, citing human resource information systems, payroll, benefits enrollment platforms and marketplace systems.
In her work through the years with fellow brokers, third-party administrators, enrollment companies and reinsurers, Nash noticed they all share the same pain points. To wit: the need to quickly and accurately glean critical details from piles of complex paperwork.
"A lot of people think brokers just show up once a year for a renewal and get paid a big commission, when a lot of us are really working very hard but have no way of showing our value," Nash observes.
Easing the burden
Finding a way to ease the burden is what motivated her to create HippaWare, a full agency management software suite that launched last summer. The applications are designed to improve a benefit broker's workflow by automating repetitive tasks, which allows the broker to accommodate new clients. Scalability, Nash says, is the key to growth, and the trick is having the right information at one's fingertips.
"HippaWare is the difference between an afternoon of sorting, collating and reviewing individually provided healthcare data or less than an hour of unencumbered review," according to Bardon Insurance Group VP of underwriting Byrd Preston, who uses the software suite.
Another of the online platform's time savers is an application that handles 90% of the work required for filling out a comprehensive medical questionnaire in both English and Spanish. The app addresses one of Nash's biggest challenges: convincing employees to provide and verify their personal data. Brokers need this information along with claims data in order to provide fully-insured versus self-funded comparison quotes to employer clients.
Nash, a self-described nerd who owned a computer concierge business for 11 years, is the architect of HippaWare and works in partnership with a 30-year Oracle and Autodesk International programmer. Together, they hope to tweak the software package to make it more user-friendly. "I've done a ton of testing and listening to feedback to see how I could make this better," she says.
While improving workflow is an immediate objective, there's also a larger purpose behind the planned upgrade. Nash is keenly aware that the average age of a broker today is 59, and a mass exodus of retiring practitioners is expected within the next 5 to 10 years. Reasoning the millennials are more tech savvy than their elders, she wants to provide technology that they will embrace as a way to engage and support a younger generation of benefit advisers.