About the case
To meet customer expectations, reduce back-office processing costs and stay ahead of the competition, Dutch health insurer VGZ developed and launched a mobile app ‘VGZ Zorg’ allowing customers to access policy information, submit and process claims via their Apple and Android devices. The app was developed on Mendix in just weeks and includes sophisticated security and user authentication services integrated by Onegini, a Mendix mobile security partner.
The VGZ Cooperative is the second largest health insurance provider in the Netherlands. Through a number of brands it insures more than four million people and is driven not by profit, but by the desire to offer good, affordable and sensible care to its customer members.
Eager to engage digital processes both to offer a great service and to drive down costs wherever possible, in 2016 the insurer turned its attention to further improving its account information and claims submission process. It already offered online services incorporating responsive design to accommodate the multiple platform types customers might use. VGZ decided to also offer a dedicated smartphone app.
“We wanted to improve the customer experience by offering a mobile app allowing customers to scan receipts, submit and progress health insurance claims via their smartphone,” said Hugo te Kaat, digital innovation architect at VGZ. “We also saw the back-office efficiencies offered by being able to process more claims electronically.”
VGZ was faced with a challenge. It knew that building the app would be a creative process; from a fuzzy start, a developer, users and business teams all collaborating on a ‘living’ iterative development. Also, the insurer wanted to be quick to market, planning on offering a basic version on app stores within weeks, then adding new and improved capabilities over time.
VGZ first considered a traditional code-based development approach for building the app, but determined that that the process wouldn’t suit the early, rather loose design specification. It also knew that to delay development while trying to define a precise specification could place it months behind competitors.
“Knowing speed was of the essence and that the process was going to be one of innovation, we decided to consider an agile, low-code platform approach,” said te Kaat. “I already knew such platforms allowed fast, flexible development, but needed to understand which vendor would best support mobile apps and our strict data security needs, including the compliance obligations afforded by the Dutch data protection act and the European Union.”
Our CIO was executive sponsor of the development project and got closely involved. He was impressed by Mendix and uses VGZ Zorg as an example of collaborative development and accelerated delivery of change.
VGZ considered the various low-code platforms on the market, inviting Mendix to build an early proof of concept. A ‘minimum viable product’ was running on the mobile devices of a VGZ staff test group in just three weeks. A much enhanced app was ready after six weeks. To build the production version, VGZ defined a governance process and then chose two people from its business operations to work alongside a developer.
According to te Kaat, one significant differentiator between Mendix and many other low-code vendors is that when developing a mobile app on the Mendix platform, progress can be demonstrated just as users will see it; as an app on their devices. This stimulates an energetic round of feedback and another innovative push forward.
Security was considered right from the start of the proof of concept. Insurance companies hold sensitive personal information on their customers, including health, financial and legal data. To ensure privacy, the Dutch government offers insurers a service for online user authentication called DigiD. For mobile authentication though, logging in on a mobile app using your username and password followed by a lengthy multi-character SMS code, is not especially user friendly.
Today’s users expect PIN code and fingerprint login and additional security is needed anyway, to protect personal data end-to-end. VGZ therefore decided instead to complement the high levels of security built into Mendix with additional integrated mobile authentication and security services from Onegini, a Mendix mobile security partner.
“Onegini adapted its user authentication service to VGZ’s needs in just four weeks,” said te Kaat. “With Onegini built into Mendix, we were able to provide strong, legally compliant security, whilst still keeping to the tight deadlines of our rapid ‘go-to-market’ strategy.”
The VGZ app, named “VGZ Zorg,” passed VGZ’s security compliance tests first time, including rigorous penetration testing by an expert third-party consultancy. A few minor security observations were valid, and were easily addressed. From the user’s perspective, things are kept simple. When they start VGZ Zorg for the first time, they are taken through Onegini’s secure enrollment process and asked to create a PIN code. Thereafter, the user needs simply to enter their PIN to establish a secure connection.
With VGZ’s compliance department satisfied that security obligations were being met and business teams and the developer collaborating well thanks to the highly visual workflow-based nature of development on Mendix, work progressed quickly.
“We were stunned by the speed at which you can develop on Mendix,” said te Kaat. “As internal teams gave feedback, within the hour our developer often responded with enhancements, bringing the app into shape in front of our eyes!”
Customers can not only scan and submit receipts for claims. They can use the app to prove to a health professional that they are insured. They can view their annual policy excess (or ‘own risk’ balance), terms and conditions, acceptable and unacceptable expenditures and more.
Links to back-end system application programmer interfaces (APIs) including to Oracle Health Insurance Back Office applications were also built on Mendix.
Launched in November 2016 firstly to a small segment of the customer base, VGZ Zorg was downloaded 70,000 times from mobile app stores in the first five months – well on target to reaching a goal of 90,000 downloads by the end of 2017. The app is achieving early objectives of an average three-star app review, on which VGZ expects to improve as it acts on comments and extends app functionality.
As at April 2017, VGZ is receiving 5,000 claims per week via the app, about 10 per cent of all weekly claims, each claim costing less to process than a paper-based claim, says te Kaat. Faster claims processing means faster payouts to customers.
“Our CIO was executive sponsor of the development project and got closely involved,” said te Kaat. “He was impressed by Mendix and uses VGZ Zorg as an example of collaborative development and accelerated delivery of change.”
The initiative has been proven a success. Indeed in 2017 VGZ launched similar apps on Mendix for some of its other insurance brands, including Bewuzt and IZA.