Star Health and Allied Insurance streamlines reporting across business units
Star Health and Allied Insurance Co Ltd. is one of the largest players in the private insurance sector in India. The company needs to generate a variety of reports in a timely manner—from claims to product development. With their old tool, it was difficult to accurately estimate report generation time, and most projects required a vendor, driving up costs. Star Health sought out a tool that could fit their fast-paced culture, connect to several data sources, and move report production to internal teams.
Star Health and Allied Insurance Co Ltd. is India's first standalone health insurance company. The company is a joint venture between Oman Insurance Company, leading NRIs and several Indian business houses. Its subsequent investors include ICICI Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Tata Capital.
Star Health was using a business intelligence (BI) platform that was extremely vendor-dependent, making the analytics and reporting process slower and costlier. The company chose Tableau because it could provide multiple source connectivity, in-memory technology, and most importantly, the ability to generate reports internally without vendor dependency. Today, roughly 400 employees interact and view Tableau visualizations built on up to 70 million rows of data (800GB).
Reducing vendor dependency
Star Health has a pan-India presence with a network base of about 300 offices and 600 one man offices across the country servicing its 1.5 million customers through 6000+ hospitals, providing cashless hospitalization.
“As an insurance company, our entire business hinges on the availability of reliable data. Our pricing and modelling depends on analysis of data, not only from our products but also from external sources in the industry,” said Mr. Sethuraman Kannan, CIO and Vice President of Information Technology Star Health Insurance.
Beyond pricing and modelling, the company relies on data analysis to inform everything from provider performance to new product development and regulation compliance.
Initially, the company used Microsoft Excel to maintain reports and databases. But working with such large amounts of data—Star Health has more than 1.5 million customers and policies in India—in Excel made it vulnerable and unstable. Managing this data was a challenge.
As an insurance company, our entire business hinges on the availability of reliable data. Our pricing and modelling depends on analysis of data, not only from our products but also from external sources in the industry.
Star Health decided to invest in a Business Intelligence platform in the year 2010. Despite switching to the new platform, several challenges remained. Since it was a customized tool rather than an off-the-shelf product, the company needed to work with the vendor to generate each report. As a result, the internal team was not in a position to produce ad-hoc reports in a timely or cost-efficient manner.
The Claims department needs to analyze factors such as the incurred claims ratio against the premium procured and performance of network hospitals with respect to turnaround times, costs, etc.
The Product Development team needs to conceptualize and design new products. When a new insurance product is developed, data on existing products is analyzed vis-à-vis external information. This helps the actuarial team model new prototypes based on market requirements. Before launching the product, the company needs to submit detailed reports with the Indian Government’s Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), which can be done using Tableau.
For instance, if the company were to float an insurance product for diabetes, it would need to analyze a variety of data to arrive at the optimum pricing model. In addition to internal data, Star Health might look at the incidence of diabetes in the country, age groups, or geographies that are most affected, or causes of the disease, for example. Even from a regulatory standpoint, insurance companies need to submit several reports on internal data to authorities.
With the earlier tool, it was tough for the company to accurately estimate timelines for the generation of each report and anticipate the impact on other reports in the pipeline. Dependency on the vendor slowed down processes and drove up costs.
Star Health was looking for an alternate tool with multiple source connectivity, in-memory technology and more importantly, the ability to generate reports internally without vendor dependency. Star Health identified Tableau as the tool that would meet its requirements, based on Tableau's performance on the Gartner Magic Quadrant. They selected Bodhtree Consultancy Ltd., as an implementation partner.
Tableau has minimized report generation time to one tenth of the original. And the best part is that users can generate reports on their own, without having to rely on the vendor, which significantly cuts costs.
Better business insights across departments
The implementation was carried out by a joint team of eight from Bodhtree Consulting and Star Health. Implementation took 4 months, from the selection of the tool to going live. This was possible on account of the fact that Star Health could lean on experience gained from implementing the earlier solution, as well as the cooperation from Bodh Tree consulting.
Today, a five member team at Star Health takes care of all data requirements and builds data visualizations in Tableau Desktop. These analysts access up to 800GB of data stored in Oracle and Microsoft Excel platforms for their analysis. They publish visualizations in Tableau Server, where 300 to 400 employees across departments log in to view and interact with the data. The company uses local authorization to secure data access.
Tableau use is expanding quickly at Star Health; the company has rolled out Tableau to all its branches and plans to make it available to its sales force in the future.
Mr. S. Kannan said, “Statistics are very important when it comes to the insurance industry. For example, our reports need to justify pricing and authenticity to the IRDA for us to launch new products. Tableau helps us to seamlessly generate all the reports that we need.”
Tableau has been worth the investment. Combined with our expertise, it is a huge success at Star Health. All the users are quite happy.
Lower cost and faster insights
Tableau’s user-friendly interface and analysis speed has had a significant impact on all teams that are using the software.
Reports are generated quickly, so the time lag between report request and generation is reduced considerably. Since the tool is user friendly, it is possible to filter and choose the exact report required.
“Tableau has minimized report generation time to one tenth of the original. And the best part is that users can generate reports on their own, without having to rely on the vendor, which significantly cuts cost,” said Mr. S. Kannan.
He added, “Tableau has been worth the investment. Combined with our expertise, it is a huge success at Star Health. All the users are quite happy.”
Star Health is growing steadily. The adoption of Tableau Server has suited the organization because customer data can be regularly updated.
The ability to maintain the software in-house, instead of relying on the vendor, has been a big plus for Star Health. Above all, the company feels self-sufficient with the ease of use and customization that Tableau has to offer.