We’re building solutions for the Blues, with the Blues. We develop solutions side by side with our plan partners so they can deliver better experiences for their members.  


Co-Creating a Better Experience for Consumers


NASCO began co-creating in the servicing space years ago when we partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) to build NCompass, our state-of-the-art customer servicing product. The development of this product leveraged the expertise of the plan’s Customer Servicing Representatives (CSRs), who would ultimately become the product’s end users. The CSRs provided real-life scenarios, experience and know-how that aided in the development of the product and subsequently improved the customer service experience for BCBSM’s members, providers, agents and employees.  

BCBSM expected that this unique approach to product design — including input from end users up front — would save time and money in the long run, and they were right! To date, NCompass has helped facilitate the reduction of BCBSM’s average call handle time by approximately 10 percent. In addition, the plan has experienced a significant improvement in email response rates, with more than 98 percent of email responses occurring within 24 hours. BCBSM’s first call resolution score has greatly increased since the NCompass implementation, and the plan has been able to reduce its CSR training time by 10 percent, with hopes to reduce that time even further in the near future.    

While we’ll continue to advance NCompass and expand its offerings to meet ever-changing industry needs, we’ve also identified a marketplace need to extend beyond customer service into consumer navigation and engagement. To enable health plans to differentiate themselves in this space, NASCO is launching a new Concierge Enablement portfolio of products.

We have gathered consumer and employer group insights, as well as competitive market insights and feedback from our plan partners, to develop a platform that will enable the Blues to deliver market-leading concierge services and personalized consumer experiences. NASCO’s Concierge Enablement portfolio of products features a concierge decisioning engine, an integrated concierge desktop, virtual agent experiences and integrated reporting. The concierge decisioning engine will deliver personalized strategies through Web, mobile, clinical service and call center agent channels based on preconfigured business rules and event data triggers. The integrated concierge desktop will equip agents with an integrated view of customer service and clinical information. The virtual agent experiences will enable consumers to interact with virtual agents to resolve questions in a highly convenient and interactive way. The integrated reporting will provide the ability to measure concierge service performance and to address unique employer group reporting requirements.

While much of the Concierge Enablement portfolio is still being co-created with our plan partners, one component of the suite — AskBen℠ — is already being used by Anthem, Inc. (Anthem) and BCBSM. AskBen offers quick, reliable and consistent answers to benefit-related and out-of-pocket expense-related questions. The solution provides real-time access to member eligibility, benefit information, accumulations and member liability estimates. AskBen is intended to provide a specific and accurate response to a very specific request, and Anthem is currently using the solution to identify when a service requires precertification or predetermination. The plan will be extending its use of AskBen in Q2 2019 to detail members’ benefits for the service. BCBSM is delivering a Member Portal capability through AskBen, leveraging the solution’s member liability estimates.  

As we enter into the future of healthcare technology together, we’re excited to be co-creating better experiences for consumers, with our plan partners, to enable market differentiation for the Blues. 


Changing the Way We Work

We’re all in this together. If you don’t win, we don’t win. So, we’re always identifying and cultivating new game-changing initiatives to ensure that our Blue plan partners can adapt and respond quickly to market needs — so that you can win!  

There has been a lot of buzz around Agile delivery recently, but Agile is more than just a new software development approach — it’s a different way of engaging in a project. It’s the epitome of co-creation. Agile, at its core, is characterized by dividing tasks into short phases of work, while frequently reassessing and adapting tactics. It provides a more intimate integration of minds, and allows participants to incrementally refine an idea or solution. 

Over the past year, NASCO has engaged in Agile-based projects, including the development of event-based architecture, events and APIs to support those events as part of our Digital Connector platform. The Digital Connector team operates under Agile principles, including iterative design, daily standups, backlog grooming and intimate customer engagement. In addition, we have several plan partners currently using Agile practices to varying degrees, and NASCO’s flexible delivery model supports these practices. In fact, we’ve piloted an Interaction Model with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to support their Agile efforts.  

We have also experienced success using Agile principles to guide more iterative development internally on projects such as the NASCO Enterprise User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI) strategy. The UX/UI project uses Agile to establish a cohesive approach to planning, designing and developing high-quality user experiences across all of our products. The Agile delivery model is changing when and how we engage with our plan partners throughout the delivery lifecycle. For example, for the MembersEdge® UX/UI, the business and technology teams collaboratively engaged not only with each other, but also with our plan partners during the definition and design phases to ensure that the results would meet end-user expectations.

With Agile, we’ve been able to promote consistency, efficiency and reusability to deliver projects more effectively. Agile has also enabled us to accelerate the design and development processes to increase organizational velocity and improve speed to market for application enhancements.

We understand that flexibility in our delivery approach is critical to meeting ever-changing market demands. Adopting new ways of working to increase engagement and co-creation opportunities between NASCO and our plan partners is beneficial for all of us and helps us ensure that speed to market and business needs are aligned. 

Helping Health Plans Diversify Portfolios AND Consolidate Billing — That’s What We Do! 


NASCO’s product strategy and development is the result of some of the highest performing Blues collaborating to optimize key capabilities to support their strategic business objectives. We listen to our plan partners. We know their pain points, and we foster the collaboration needed to co-create solutions that will help alleviate the friction. 

We heard from several of our plan partners who wanted to grow their ancillary product business to meet the increasing requests for voluntary, specialized, boutique and custom benefits with a streamlined member experience. These ancillary products range from health-related benefits, like wellness plans or disease management programs, to nonhealth-related products, like life insurance or financial savings plans. In addition, the health plans wanted to simplify and align third-party policies and invoicing information across multiple products into one consolidated invoice. 

NASCO sat down with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) to co-create a set of comprehensive capabilities to support various benefit and service offerings. The health plans wanted to be able to bill multiple types of fees, including volume-based and fee-based fees, all on one bill. They wanted to have the ability to manage payments and the disbursement of those payments, and they wanted to be able to manage the membership and how it drives the calculation of the bill. 

Leveraging and building on existing MembersEdge® functionality, we enhanced the key components of enrollment, membership, billing and rating to support the business rules necessary to enable our plan partners to add an unlimited number of ancillary benefit offerings — with core medical benefits or as stand-alone offerings — in an autonomous way by account, line of business or, more broadly, as a base offering. This solution for diversifying health plan benefits provides the integration components required to enable ancillary benefit enrollment, reconciliation, payment and settlement processes. We included the capabilities needed to support more accurate financial reporting, general ledger posting and reconciliation processing for ancillary benefits or fees. We also made ancillary benefit information available for health plan data stores, as well as for digital events and services, to drive improved customer servicing and a better, more retail-like member experience. 

These enhancements to MembersEdge enabled CareFirst to add new lines of business for life, accidental death and dismemberment and long-term and short-term disability for its 2019 open enrollment as voluntary benefit additions for its group business. BCBSMA is planning to use these enhanced capabilities as part of its MembersEdge migration to support all of its personal spending account products, as well as a larger portfolio of voluntary and boutique products. Other health plans are poised to take advantage of these MembersEdge enhancements to increase the diversity of product offerings within their portfolios.