How a Web Harvesting Tool Helped Health Insurance Enrollment


How ehealth turned to a web harvesting tool from Connotate to help its call centers complete calls quickly by finding the right information.

Name of Organization: eHealth

Industry: Healthcare

Location: Mountain View, CA USA

Business Opportunity or Challenge:

Since the early days of the consumer web in the 1990s, insurance providers, brokers and aggregators have been using the internet to offer consumers greater choices in their health insurance providers. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),  this has only accelerated.

But the internet is not the only place where consumers can find health insurance information. Complicated health insurance choices often require live consultations with consumers, which means that an effective call center is critical.

eHealth, an online portal for more than 13,000 health plans from 180 carriers, has enrolled more than four million people in health insurance coverage, and is the leading online marketplace for individual and family health insurance products in the United States. Every day, the company provides thousands of visitors with information about a broad array of health insurance-related topics and plans, including a selection of price and benefit options, complemented by a full-service call center.

During the annual Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, eHealth’s call center handles over 500,000 customer calls totaling over five million minutes. The challenge for eHealth was for call center agents to provide accurate, real-time information to customers contacting eHealth’s call center, enabling them to make informed healthcare decisions.

However, finding information for callers was time-consuming. Call-center agents had to put customers on hold and manually search multiple sources for the information. This process typically took several minutes, inconveniencing callers and raising call center costs.

How This Business Opportunity or Challenge Was Met:

To increase responsiveness and increase efficiency, eHealth invested in web harvesting software that enables call center agents simply enter a few simple details into eHealth’s custom-built user interface. The solution, from Connotate, then carries out a federated real-time search across all appropriate web sources, returning needed information in seconds.

This was a new initiative, so there was planning and scoping that needed to take place and, as with harvesting real-time content from any website, a focal point was to ensure fastest time to data as possible each time these federated searches were executed by a call center agent.

Connotate’s solution employs machine learning to automatically generate efficient Web extraction code and supporting context, collectively referred to as an Agent. The system uses patented visual abstraction technology – enabling non-developers to quickly set up monitoring for new sites and support rapid deployment at scale. The system employs Web scrapers that parse the HTML of a web page looking for markers that identify the data to extract.

Measurable/Quantifiable and “Soft” Benefits From This Initiative:

eHealth now provides information to customers more quickly, reducing the average length of enrollment calls by 10 percent. As a result, the company is able to deliver more responsive service, and is able to serve more customers. The company is saving 4.5 minutes per enrollment call.

By providing accurate real-time information, eHealth was also able to dramatically increase its metrics for compliance with government regulations.

(Sources: eHealth, Connotate)

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