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In a recent interview with CIO Applications, Hugh O'Toole, CEO of Innovu delves deeper into the superior capabilities of their solution and how it is emerging as a game changer in benefits administration.
Can you paint us a brief picture of Innovu’s history and how it all began?
The company dates back about four years, and the basic premise for our foundation was that historically people have handled human capital risk management, from a benefits perspective, in three silos: healthcare, retirement, and property casualty. Most consulting companies that help HR teams and CFOs make critical decisions use industry benchmarks, but these standards are not specific to an employer. Innovu was founded to empower consultants with data-driven insights and a “single truth” of information based on their client’s data. Innovu handles data consolidation and cleansing for consultants allowing them to focus on what matters most—strategic actions that are particular to an employer and population. Our ability to convert data into digestible information and offer actionable analytics from various data sets gives us an edge in the industry.
Can you throw some light on the present day employee benefits space and the pertinent challenges plaguing both benefit advisors and employers?
The cost escalation in employee benefits packages is crippling organizations. When I started as a benefits consultant thirty years ago, 100 percent of all employee benefits were paid by an employer. That is next to impossible for an employer today. Organizations already feel burdened by the rising cost of healthcare and as such all other benefits in some way have become voluntary. Yet, employers are paying more than ever for benefits, which emerges as a huge cause of pressure for them. In the present day labor market, it is imperative for employers to figure out how to use data for cost containment and to enhance their solutions so that they can attract and retain critical staff. Our analytics and planning tools allow consultants to come up with better programs for employers instead of driving them to shift more and more cost onto the employee.
For every project, a trained relationship manager who has at least ten years of healthcare consulting experience collaborates with the benefits consultant
At Innovu, we collect all the healthcare data for self-insured employers, and one of the first things we do is vault it to protect the claim data. The employer now owns this data, and if they switch carriers, they don't lose the historical data to do comparisons against. Previously, when employers would switch their insurance carriers, they invariably ended up losing data. As a next step, we take disparate files—enrollment, health, and pharma claims—and through our algorithms conduct member matching to know for sure that all the data pertains to a particular employee. That is part of the cleansing process. About 30 percent of the data we collect needs to be cleansed and that is a huge value we bring. The last step we take, before we use any data is that we de-identify it for safety and compliance reasons.
Now that a benefits advisor has access to all necessary data, with Innovu they can also create financial reports. Overall, we make running the benefits plan far more efficient, since you can trust the data. However, the most important step is what we do next. We go into the data and we look for opportunities for greater efficiencies. For example, an MRI scan is three to five times more expensive at a hospital than at a standalone facility, with no difference in quality. Innovu looks at such areas of cost containment enabling consultants to help their clients achieve 3-10x savings in a given procedure.
What according to you are the differentiating factors that place Innovu ahead of the pack in the analytics and HR solutions space?
Our job is to provide consultants with the knowledge they can act upon that will ultimately have a huge impact on employee health as well as employee and employer expenses. Another factor which makes us a cut above our competitors is that on top of the software we also have a robust engagement model. For every project, a trained relationship manager who has at least ten years of healthcare consulting experience collaborates with the benefits consultant and based on specific employer requirements, we customize the end KPIs.
When it comes to information security, keeping an organization's data safe and all data and development work in the United States is our priority. Our chief security officer, Brian Dinello has been working on NSA compliant security levels. We undergo SOC 1 and SOC 2 audits and what speaks for itself is that we have never had a breach.
Please highlight a case study to help us understand Innovu’s unique value proposition better.
For a large consortium that runs a healthcare trust, we identified that their prescriptions model was inefficient. We were able to benchmark for that group what their pharma claims should be per member, per month versus what they are currently paying. We realized that each employee was paying roughly around $50 more per month. The advisor went to the market for a solution provider that could adjudicate those claims more efficiently and ultimately the client ended up saving $6 million off their prescription drug costs.
Can you give us a peek into your roadmap?
As Will Rogers puts it, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." We will continue to enhance and add actionable analytics, and expand the “convergence of benefits” to look at the core causational effects between healthcare, retirement, and workers compensation.
We have a growing database of employers and based on previously observed patterns, we are going to equip our consultants with the ability to benchmark and plan and design differentials for their clients in the best possible manner. Additionally, we are looking to expand our channel of whole sellers by the end of the year.