Menzis operates in a market that is highly competitive and regularly in the news. The newspapers are currently running headlines such as “Fears that healthcare premiums will become unaffordable” and “Almost half of all Dutch people fear being unable to afford health insurance”. There is great pressure to control costs in order to set premiums as competitively as possible. This, together with the demand for flexibility and obligations towards the regulators, is leading to a growing focus on innovation, digitization and continuous improvement in many areas, including IT.
The health insurer wanted to make its organization data-driven and improve its service provision to customers. It had already taken a step in this direction before with its ‘SamenGezond’ (‘Healthy together’) campaign – an online health program to promote active and conscious living through coaching, tips and blogs. “It set us apart as a health insurer five years ago with its focus on prevention,” says Tarik Akkouh, Information Provision Strategy Manager at Menzis. A holistic approach was taken to health, paying attention to exercise, nutrition, physical and mental health, relaxation and sleep.
The campaign generated a lot of data, but up-to-date resources to learn from the data were lacking. There was a desire to create greater business value, accelerate the move to the cloud and work in an agile manner.
Partnership in Digital Transformation
Akkouh, who was responsible for the IT vision, architecture, innovation and portfolio management at Menzis, started looking for a suitable partner. He was already familiar with Azure, a public cloud computing platform from Microsoft. He came into contact with the software giant from Redmond and ended up with a list of five potential partners. Macaw was chosen because of its convincing track record, expertise, experience and ability to turn challenges into success. Together they are working on strategic goals, such as having a data-driven organization that is agile. Earlier projects have been successfully completed despite tight deadlines. And improvements in terms of innovation and modernization have been made every time.
“Moving the entire organization to the cloud has a different scope and impact. It’s more complex and there are more risks involved,” says Akkouh. “We need to make it easy for our regulators to understand why we’re making the move to the cloud and what that means for our members. For example, mixing data from insurance policies with healthcare data relating to an individual’s behavior is not allowed. Data about claims and health conditions may not be used to tighten up admission criteria. Technically, a strict separation needs to be maintained.”
Macaw helped with the Cloud Competence Center in order to clarify the cloud strategy and determine the roadmap to the cloud, taking the regulators’ requirements into account. Akkouh concludes: “The idea is that everything we want to do will end up in the cloud. The foundation is in the cloud, and we’re also moving all internal data to the cloud.”
Significant Cost Savings
Through the use of the data infrastructure and the cloud competence center and thanks to the governance team, Menzis has experienced the following benefits:
- A 50 percent cost reduction since the collaboration with Macaw began in early 2022. Among other factors, this is due to:
- The elimination of certain processes.
- Reductions in the amount of hardware and the number of people deployed.
- Decreased energy use – with less hardware to cool and lower power consumption, 1 million euros has already been saved.
- Decreased maintenance costs, for example because employees no longer have to replace components, and because there is less need for integrations and data accessibility work.
- A data-driven organization that is agile and flexible, so that more value can be extracted from the available data and a better picture of customers and better forecasts can be achieved.
- Better governance.
- Increased business value through the use of data for smarter development.
These benefits are primarily apparent to the internal organization. Akkouh explains: “The platform is comparable to the chassis of a car. As a consumer, you don’t really notice improvements to the chassis. What you do notice, though, is that our websites have less downtime and function in a more stable manner. During campaigns it’s always very busy and in terms of performance we often need more hardware. We don’t have to think about that now, because we can easily scale up. And the economies we make on the data center, electricity and operational management can be used to make premiums more affordable. We’re thinking of all sorts of ways to lower premiums for the consumer, for example by moving to the cloud.”
He speaks highly of the collaboration with Macaw, calling it a true partnership rather than a supplier-client relationship. “Thanks to Macaw, we started to think differently about data, and we looked at the predictive power of data. And when it came to the cloud foundation, they did the thinking. They advised us on the best option and how to deal with the regulators. In addition, they gave us clear frameworks and brought in best practices to speed up the process. Now that we’ve deployed the technology, we want to work towards adopting working methods and knowledge in a ‘We lead, co-lead, you lead’.”
The health insurer intends to transfer even more to the cloud. The aim is to have at least 70 percent of its facilities in the cloud. Akkouh: “We’re looking at which things of value that are still positioned locally can move to the cloud. And we’re continuously monitoring what can be done better, faster and smarter.”