Bupa touts customer experience in digital transformation

The healthcare provider said it was important to understand why its customers were engaging before adopting technology for technology's sake.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor on

Global healthcare provider Bupa offers a whole range of services, including healthcare, dental, and aged-care facilities. Often when people engage with a company like Bupa, it's at a time that's very difficult in their life, dealing with health challenges or aged-care facilities for loved ones.

Increasingly aware of this, Bupa's Australia and New Zealand arm had isolated technology as a potentially challenging factor in the environment it operates in, and did not want to risk its adoption getting in the way of customer experience.

According to chief information officer Sami Yalavac, a digital transformation needed to put customer experience at the forefront of everything adopted by the organisation.

Bupa has overhauled its digital and data strategies, and embraced hybrid cloud, business analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI), with Yalavac saying it was important these moves towards transformation were made through a customer-focused lens.

"We are not doing anything for the sake of digital or technology itself, but to meet our customers' needs," he said.

The information systems currently service 230 Bupa-owned dental clinics, 38 optical stores, more than 118 aged care homes, and underpin the company's health, travel, pet, home, and life insurance business.

"From this perspective, our CRM platform through Microsoft Dynamics on the Azure platform was the heart of the whole program, tracking every single interaction with our customer. Other systems or capabilities sit around this core CRM capability," Yalavac said.

SEE: Tech budgets 2019: A CXO's guide (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Microsoft said the single source of truth and data collection has allowed Bupa to stand up new customer services. For example, an online self-service platform that allows insurance customers to determine how much support from Bupa could expected for a treatment.

"They've gone through that process to create an entirely self service-driven online experience using the cloud as a platform to deliver that for Bupa customers to have access to that immediacy of information," Microsoft Australia national technology officer Lee Hickin explained while speaking with media about the transformation undertaken by Bupa.

"And that's the kind of starting block, and for them there's just a raft of stuff they want to now begin that journey with us on, which includes looking at technologies at some of those facilities, physical facilities, around how we help and manage the experience for their clients and their customers."

Pointing to the Australian Consumer Data Right, which will allow individuals to "own" their data by granting them open access to their banking, energy, phone, and internet transactions, as well as the right to control who can have it and who can use it, Bupa chief data officer Scott Barber said he expects the mandate will extend to insurance in the future.

"We'll need to be able to provision our data the same way the banks do," he said, noting it has led him to focus on "simplifying Bupa's data landscape and developing strong data governance capabilities".

"By having a scalable, flexible data platform like Azure we can consolidate our data and have a clear view of our data; what it means, what's the quality of it, how it moves. This changes what could potentially be an expensive activity of trying to provide open access to data into a pretty simple one," he added.

Bupa ANZ has embraced the Microsoft technology stack, using Office 365, Dynamics 365, and Azure to host all of its digital assets such as websites and mobile apps.

SEE: Microsoft Azure: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

Azure also acts as the integration layer between Dynamics 365 in the cloud and Bupa's on-premises environment. Azure also hosts Bupa's data platforms supporting analytics.

"We still have a significant onsite, our own private cloud," Yalavac added. "Because we have good integration, there is good networking solutions, so that you can easily make your choices of what's in your own data centre versus Azure itself versus some other tech solution. Eventually, we'll go more and more PaaS and SaaS."

Yalavac touted the importance in aligning an organisation's culture before overhauling its technology.

"I believe that without having the right culture, and also the right people, you're never ever able to deliver your strategy," he said.

"We have communicated to employees at all levels and in all parts of the information services team the kind of culture and behaviours we need here: what's accepted here and what's not accepted, what is rewarded versus discouraged, how to encourage people to collaborate but collaborate efficiently."


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