Papua New Guinea’s Pacific Assurance Group implements Group Health Plus from Portland Software

When Pacific Assurance Group was looking to upgrade its in-house health and medical systems, it didn’t just draw up a list of business functions and go to market with an RFP (request for proposal). Rather it asked its peers for recommendations and feedback on specialist health insurance system providers.

Jeff Frost, Chief Operating Officer, Pacific Assurance Group, says that the company was fortunate in that it could benefit from the advice it received from AXA.

“We have a close relationship with AXA in Singapore and that helped us a lot in reaching our decision. We had looked at a couple of other suppliers, but based on AXA’s experience, we took their advice and selected Portland Software to deliver our new health insurance system,” says Frost.

Pacific Assurance Group is one of Papua New Guinea’s largest insurance companies, providing a wide range of insurance products including health, fire and general, motor vehicle and business insurance products. The company has offices in Port Moresby, Lae and Kokomo, where 72 staff manage the more US$25M in insurance premiums.

Frost says Pacific Assurance Group’s business requirements included improving claims efficiency and settlement speed, plus smarter data collection, “to help us better price our products and eventually have the service providers do online claims lodgment.”

Frost also says that the other key factors that led Pacific Assurance Group to choose Portland Software was its ability to deliver and its customer service.

“Portland’s assistance is much valued and appreciated. Hans Frauenlob, Portland’s vice-president for customers has a fortnightly teleconference with our team to assist them in speeding up the implementation of the system and this is of great benefit to us. Hans also talks with me fortnightly to ascertain what we need to do next,” says Frost.

Prior to implementing Portland’s Group Health Plus system, the health department of Pacific Assurance Group had used a combination of its general insurance system to invoice premiums, while claims were processed using Excel spreadsheets, with MYOB used for accounting.

Portland’s Group Health Plus system will provide a fully integrated solution that when implemented will significantly reduce the time required for Pacific Assurance Group staff to process claims. It will also allow Pacific Assurance Group to rapidly create customisation of its health insurance offerings. In the future it is planned to provide some self-service capabilities for insurance brokers.

Frost says that transitioning to Group Health Plus from a combination of Excel spreadsheets, MYOB and their general insurance system is a big cultural shift for the staff at Pacific Assurance Group.

“It’s a busy division and we are taking a measured approach to implementation as the staff are in new, unfamiliar territory and we need to maintain a high degree of accuracy,” says Frost.

Staff training is a major component in implementing Group Health Plus at Pacific Assurance Group. Portland staff have made several visits to Papua New Guinea to deliver on-site training, while key Pacific Assurance Group staff have travelled to New Zealand for “train the trainer” workshops.

Hans Frauenlob, Portland’s vice-president for customers, says Papua New Guinea poses some interesting challenges.

“From the start, Group Health Plus has been developed as a global solution, so there is plenty of flexibility in how it can be configured and deployed.”

“Papua New Guinea’s variable national infrastructure could potentially have been a problem, as Group Health Plus is designed as a cloud-based solution. In order to ensure 100 percent availability, we worked with Pacific Assurance Group’s IT team to create their own private cloud. We can still provide remote support and system modifications, but if international connectivity is interrupted for any reason, Pacific Assurance Group continues to operate as normal,” says Frauenlob.

Pacific Assurance Group began deploying Group Health Plus in June and expects to be fully operational within nine months.

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