Building a better healthcare ecosystem with cloud technology
“What’s in a name?”
If you ask William Shakespeare’s titular character Juliet of “Romeo and Juliet” who first posed the question that would last for eternity, the answer is simple: not all that much. But, for Vālenz® Health, an industry-leading healthcare solutions provider, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Valenz is Latin for strong, vigorous, and healthy—three words that don’t just define the company, but also perfectly sum up the value it brings to the healthcare industry. With purpose-built solutions that combine robust analytics, data transparency, and service delivery, Valenz is helping providers and health plan members engage early and often to lower the cost of healthcare insurance claims.
Mismatched tech stacks
Valenz is on a mission. Its goal? Smarter, better, faster healthcare.
Valenz grew out of a series of acquisitions that increased its presence across the healthcare ecosystem, helping to make its dream a reality. What started as a claims management company soon expanded into care management, then payment integrity and compliance. Its rise was so quick, in fact, that Inc. Magazine named Valenz one of the fastest-growing companies of 2020.
According to Chief Information Officer Ed Zwicker, this wasn’t without a few growing pains. If this unique service integration was going to work, customers had to receive a consistent client experience. But, every time Valenz purchased a company, it also inherited the technology stacks and telephony systems that were already in place. With a “mixed bag” of on-premises solutions, Zwicker quickly realized that telephony was a major pain point for employees and customers alike.
“The different telephony systems used across our different divisions weren’t compatible with one another,” Zwicker explained. “For example, just calling people within the company required looking up that person’s 10-digit phone number in a directory and making a long-distance call to contact them if they weren’t in your area.”
Unfortunately, working with disparate technologies wasn’t any easier on Valenz customers.
“People were calling into different telephony systems with different call queues and different messages,” Zwicker said. “They provided a disjointed experience, particularly with those customers who purchased multiple products from us.”
Valenz invested considerable time trying to improve the relationship and level of service provided by its vendors, but ultimately chose an alternative course of action. According to Zwicker, the “clear answer” was to find a unified solution from a single provider.
Fueling growth with a cloud-based solution
Zwicker and his team began their search for the ideal contact center and telephony system in late 2020. They engaged a company called Prelude Solutions, which helped Valenz right-size its current contracts and billing to save money right out of the gate. Prelude then walked Valenz through the evaluation process as they looked at different telephony solutions.
Obviously, cost is always an important factor, explained Zwicker. But, in addition to that, wall-board reporting capabilities were very important for operations managers and supervisors on the phones to gain insight into what was going on at the time. Valenz needed to see real-time abandonment rates and pick-up times to improve the customer experience—metrics that its older systems didn’t accurately provide.
“Another important thing for us was self-service administration,” Zwicker added. “With the old systems, we had to rely on third-party providers every time we brought people on or needed to make basic changes to call queues. We wanted to do it ourselves and save both dollars and time to get things done quickly.”
Another must-have for Valenz? Scalability. With a growing number of users working from home, Valenz needed a system that could support remote work. In other words, he needed a cloud-based solution.
“We needed something that could grow with our company,” Zwicker said. “Valenz has tripled in size in the two-and-half years I’ve been here. That’s why being in the cloud was important, because we didn’t want to constantly upgrade our physical hardware. Our old system simply wasn’t growing as quickly as we were.”
After a long evaluation process that included ample research and many product demos, Valenz finally found a vendor that matched its search criteria: Webex by Cisco. With the help of Weidenhammer, a nationally recognized digital transformation consultant company, Valenz implemented Webex Contact Center and Webex Calling.
“We had three main offices across the country at the time, so it was done in stages,” Zwicker explained. “Having Weidenhammer as a partner made a big difference. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through it alone.”
A smarter, better, faster business
Since the implementation, Valenz has used Webex to make good on its promise of a smarter, better, faster healthcare system—especially when it comes to client experience. Through Webex Contact Center, Zwicker’s team can access a variety of real-time analytics, including important metrics such as abandonment rate and speed-to-answer.
“In the old days that was the goal, but we had no ability to measure it accurately,” Zwicker said. “Now we have the ability to measure and know when we need additional people on phones or to rebalance the queues.”
What’s more, real-time data has helped Valenz set, measure, and meet SLAs. And, if they’re missing the mark, the Valenz team can take corrective action in the moment and not after the fact. In his words, they’re “much more proactive in real time” than they would’ve been in the past.
“It’s allowed us to service customers better because we can keep track of calls,” he added. “It’s leading to a more positive customer experience.”
Internally, Webex Calling has made a significant difference in the company’s remote work environment. Before the pandemic, roughly 50% of Valenz’s staff was already remote, and the company recently made it voluntary for employees to work in the office.
Using the Webex App, employees can reach one another within seconds. According to Zwicker, using a point-and-click interface has helped everyone work faster and more efficiently. But what’s also important, he added, is the impact Webex Calling has had on company culture.
“Culture is our number one driver at Valenz, and it’s not just words on an HR poster, but rather how we conduct business. It is very important with people working remotely to feel connected and part of a team,” Zwicker said. “It’s really helped us maintain a culture of teamwork, transparency, and connectedness.”
As Valenz continues to grow and acquire new companies, Zwicker is happy he no longer needs to work with disparate technologies. “It was like a Frankenstein monster,” he joked. “We were bolting pieces on, and it made it that much more difficult to work with one more telephony system in our technology stack.”
With a scalable, cloud-based alternative, Valenz has continued to grow quickly. In fact, the company completed five acquisitions in 2022 alone.
“The acquisitions have been great,” Zwicker said. “Obviously, we’re inheriting their systems when we first take them on board, but now we have a clear path ahead and a playbook for integrating them into the Webex Platform, and it’s gone very well.”
Looking ahead, Valenz is showing no signs of slowing down. For a company whose name, mission, and motto are steeped in vigor and energy, this should come as no surprise. If you ask Ed Zwicker, the company’s recent acquisitions would’ve been “much more difficult” without Webex.
“With our current and expected future growth rate, Webex is going to be essential to enable that.”
To learn more about how Webex can improve collaboration and customer experience at your organization, get in touch with our team today.
Mar 27, 2023 — Snorre Kjesbu