Aetna's Jane Good on turning exchange problems into solutions

As the Dec. 23 deadline to obtain insurance gets closer, Aetna is sharing lessons from the health insurance exchange trenches.

"I'm not a policy expert, I'm not a public relations professional, I'm a technology and operations leader at Aetna so my operations are from the true front lines," Jane Good, program director of service operations technology solutions at Aetna, told the audience at the AHIP Fall Exchange Program today in Washington, D.C.

Several months ago, Good thought she'd be sharing lessons learned and laughs from the early days, perhaps standing in front of a "mission accomplished" banner. That didn't happen. 

The trickier-than-expected exchange rollout showed her team, which designed and built solutions for exchange support, that they had to accept exceptions as the standard, such as multiple transactions by the same member on the same day.

While what the industry saw at the start of open enrollment wasn't exactly what Aetna prepared for, the insurer was able to turn some of those difficulties into tools to improve. For example, low enrollment, while troubling for participating insurers, actually proved helpful to Good and her technology solutions team.

"It gave us the ability to carefully analyze the data and react to trends," Good said, noting "the early weeks ended up functioning like a pilot for us."

During those early weeks, Good's team could quickly make changes in response to unexpected data scenarios. "When enrollment picked up substantially in November, we were ready," she said.

Aetna also was exchange ready thanks to the creation of a command center SWAT team--technology and operational experts who met every morning to get an edge over any new problems.

Another factor that gave Aetna support on the front lines of the exchange was information sharing and cross-carrier collaboration, which allowed the insurer to tackle complex issues and create solutions. In fact, Aetna was among those insurers that lent their technology experts to work alongside HHS experts to address problems with the federal exchange website, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

What's more, Good said she hopes the partnership and collaboration that arose from those early exchange problems will continue. "We can learn a lot from what we did this past year. We can learn a lot from each other," she said.