When It Comes to Creating Effective Partnerships with Your TPA, These Are the Top Qualities to Keep in Mind
When it comes to effective delivery of services to clients, open communication is key. Listening to others and making sure everyone has the full picture can go a long way in fostering a relationship that brings in positive change and results.
For Broadspire, Crawford & Company’s Global TPA, building success in external partnerships starts with understanding how to effect and implement change.
“For the last several years, operations and our analytics team have worked hand in hand to drive change and discover new opportunities and solutions for clients,” said Jeffrey Sickles, senior vice president of claims at Broadspire.
This internal relationship has enabled the team to create lasting partnerships with the company’s corporate clients, enabling both the clients and Broadspire to implement change quickly and efficiently when the need arises. It’s just one added benefit to Broadspire’s integrated claims management solutions.
“When we need to implement changes in how we handle claims or protocols with a client, the partnerships we’ve built become instrumental,” said Sickles. “We have to be open to being consultative in how we deliver data and analytics to the client in order for the client to understand and be a part of the change.”
Here’s how operations and analytics work together to help build external partnerships that last, further solidifying the relationships between client and claims partner.
Why Internal Operations and Analytics Must Be a Team First
In order to put any procedures or plans into play, the data has to back up the action. That’s the main reason why, when looking to grow a partnership with a client, it is crucial to look internally first.
“TPAs typically capture this data and then report off of it,” Sickles said. “What clients need though, is insight into what that data is telling them. We work with our analytics team to dig deeper into the data so we can better address the client’s specific needs.”
“Our mission in our department and within our analytics team is to use data to make better decisions on a daily basis,” said Mark Delew, vice president of consultative analytics at Broadspire.
“Often in the industry, analytics is used as a buzzword,” Delew continued, “but we’re using analytics in our partnerships to drill down on and help with clients’ risks.”
As Sickles explained it, Broadspire’s goal is to take what the analytics team presents and then figure out on the operations side how to impact change. This approach has changed how Broadspire looks at its data.
“We’ve taken that data and we’ve made changes to programs to effect change and get better results for the client,” Sickles said.
He gave this example of how, when operations and analytics partner together, the client benefits: Operations was getting ready to present to a client and saw that, within its general liability program, the client’s costs had increased over the last 12 months. Upon review, Broadspire’s operations team realized that some of the open claims were not settling and that the plaintiff’s bar had been keeping files open longer than what was typical.
Analytics stepped in and asked how it could help.
“Together, we were able to host a virtual mediation day. We went out and found 20 files that we felt were right for settlement, got everybody involved on the phone, and were able to settle 18 by the end of the day,” Sickles said.
The goal is to have everyone in operations and analytics on the same page before presenting to the client. That way, the information the client is given is not only accurate, but also presents the actions that have been taken and solutions that have been developed to meet their needs.
The Three Signs of a Great Partnership
The road to partnership doesn’t stop with accurate data, however. Understanding the client’s goals is as essential to meeting their needs.
“You don’t want to have these conversations about analytics and putting the data into action only to find that you haven’t been working toward the client’s goals,” Delew said. “You have to know what they want to achieve ahead of time, and then match your analysis to meet those goals.”
That communication is key.
Communication also lays the groundwork for when plans have to change. That’s why being agile in times of change is also important to building a relationship with clients.
“Clients may have a goal they’re focused on, and then something changes internally — they revamp how a program is run; they hire on a new CEO or CFO; they want to implement a new approach to claims. And so, the client is going to need a TPA that has the resources to shift,” Delew said.
He added that having built a partnership with the operations team aids in these types of transitions, because any changes needing to be made can be run through an analysis to help clients meet their needs.
Finally, the ability to implement change is paramount in a partnership. Understanding the client and being agile with any approach will only work if change can effectively be reached.
“Any new program you take on requires an outline, a timeframe and someone to manage implementation,” Sickles explained. At Broadspire, that implementation manager role is the key piece on keeping change on track.
Putting the Principles of Partnership into Action
Broadspire has put its partnership strategy into play with many of its clients. One such client is MV Transportation, a passenger transportation company operating in 26 U.S. states. The organization has a hand in municipality transport, school buses, shuttle services and more.
“We have a high exposure in transportation,” explained Dorina Hertner, chief risk officer at MV Transportation. “That’s a big challenge. But we’ve been partnering with Broadspire to address our needs.”
For Hertner, when seeking out a partner to work closely with for her claims management needs, she wanted to remain conscious of the financial impact it would have to her organization.
“Broadspire strives to help us meet those needs,” she said. “We were able to form a tight partnership in which we were both motivated toward a positive outcome.”
Over the years, the teams at MV Transportation and Broadspire have been able to create effective change in claims management for MV. Hertner explained that over the last several years she has been working hard to review MV Transportation’s costs in relation to the organization’s actuarial projections. “I worked with Broadspire to create a monthly evaluation tool,” she said.
The tool enables Hertner to compare where the actuaries expect MV to be on a monthly and quarterly basis. This further enables her to work with claims management and Broadspire to identify what years and which lines of business are performing as expected and which lines need review. She said the ability to meet monthly with the Broadspire team to review and analyze the data and to talk about the solutions necessary has made it that much more useful.
They’ve already seen proven results. “We’ve had fewer litigated claims,” Hertner said.
As with every relationship, the partnership has certainly been tested. This year, the novel coronavirus, which has had every business pausing to reflect on what best practices mean for them, created an unexpected hurdle for MV Transportation’s workers’ compensation program. Luckily, Broadspire and MV Transportation were already equipped to handle the unknown.
Hertner explained that the big question was whether COVID would be covered. “The main question I had was, ‘How much is this going to cost us?’ ”
She began to calculate the financial estimations of what could happen, but she lacked the full analytical power and the background she knew Broadspire could provide. “We had data on past workers’ comp claims and we could mark trends in claims, but what we didn’t have was how COVID could impact those trends.”
Hertner, along with the help of Delew at Broadspire, worked together to create a COVID-19 cost calculator tool that took into account average weekly wage, infection rates, and hospital costs to predict the frequency and severity of a COVID-related comp claim.
“Now we have an estimate of what the virus could cost us,” Hertner said. “I can go to leadership and say, ‘Here’s what we know based on the information out there and here’s what that might cost us this year.’ ”
Finding What’s Right for Every Partner
For MV Transportation, the COVID tool was a vital piece in predicting and monitoring its claims costs. The organization was able to work with the analytics team to create a tool that not only measured the impact, but also enabled them to adapt to any changes the virus could bring.
“We worked with analytics,” Hertner said. “We provided feedback and listened to what they presented to us.”
Delew added that working with Hertner and her team was a prime example of what Broadspire aims to do. “It’s collaborative. The entire process was a two-way street to get MV Transportation what they needed,” he said.
That is why Broadspire believes data is most valuable when it informs and drives program improvement. The best way to have data and analytics shape and improve delivery throughout the life of a claim for each client starts with the Broadspire team and extends through open communication with its partners.
“We know having operations and analytics working in tandem is instrumental in implementing change,” Sickles said. “We are able to take this and create opportunities for clients to create solutions.”
To learn more, visit: https://www.choosebroadspire.com/.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Broadspire. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.