Income protection market: Dutch consultants call on insurers to raise the bar

By Insurance, News, Pensions

The Dutch collective income market is booming – its social relevance is greater than ever and margins are improving. Foreign insurers enter the market and several Dutch insurers make strategic acquisitions throughout the value chain. At the same time, consultants and insurers are increasingly at odds. IG&H spoke to several parties in the market to determine how they can break the tension and join forces to work on effective customer solutions together.

There is a strong consolidation in the income protection market. In 2018, for example, the 50 largest consultancies accounted for half of the total production – 60% without sick leave insurance. All insurers are fully committed to this leading group and are improving their services. Nevertheless, they don’t always hit the right note: insurers’ average NPS among income consultants is -15 in mid 2019. The average performance score is 7.1.

Gradually, the consequences are becoming clear. For instance, >5% of the total WIA/WGA premium is placed with foreign insurers, elipsLife being the main example. Their success primarily results from ample underwriting capacity, sharp pricing, and an equality-based collaboration model with room for services offered by the consultant. In addition, we’ve observed a development we’re familiar with in the non-life market: substantial growth of mandated brokers. By now, 35% of the sick leave portfolio has been placed with mandated brokers (2016: 25%) – with service providers (including Felison, Nedasco, and Mandaat) making a name for themselves. Often, they turn out to be the go-to solution in the SME segment: they offer administrative convenience and quickly arrive at a market-wide price comparison. Between 2016 and 2018, their portfolio grew by more than 50%, and their market share in the intermediary sick leave market has increased to as much as 12%.

We believe insurers can improve their services on three axes:

1.    Mismatch between customer demand and product offer

Sustainable employability is high on employers’ agendas: absenteeism costs are rising, and in this difficult labor market, all attention goes to being a good employer. At the same time, income issues are growing more complex, and customer needs increasingly diverge.

A common observation is that many insurers opt for standardization – which, of course, results in simplicity and lower costs. But it also leads to a limited response to sector-specific needs and a lack of product innovations. Furthermore, consultants believe predictive data are still underused. For example, they are open to a model in which investments in sustainable employability lead to lower premiums. After all, it improves the risk profile, which means the insurer can benefit from a decreasing claims ratio. Finally, they indicate that the risk appetite of Dutch insurers seems to wane, making it difficult to insure a growing part of the market.

2.    A lack of digital innovation

As a result of consultants’ professionalization and cost pressure from the market, they place increased demands on digitalization. A much-heard adage is, ‘Stagnation means regression’ – which concerns administrative processes, among other things. Requesting information during quotation processes is often time-consuming, and the lead time for customized quotations increases. Furthermore, consultants expect more digital insight into customer and risk data so it can support their consultancy and serve as an additional service for employers.

3.    Declining trust due to conflicts of interest

Both consultants and insurers support employers in improving sustainable employability through consultancy and various prevention & reintegration services. This often leads to conflicts of interest with consultants and insurers ‘competing’ for access to the customer and the associated revenue. To many consultants, recent acquisitions by Aegon, a.s.r. and NN also fit into this picture. They fear that insurers will become competitors in an increasingly important part of their business model. Therefore, their message is clear: actively seek collaboration so the customer ends up getting the best solution.

In-depth solution guidelines

Our conversations yielded more than a problem analysis. In fact, they’ve provided concrete tools for a better collaboration between consultants and insurers. Curious? We’ll explain them in our next three blogs.

Written by: Bob van Opstal (Manager Pensions) and Idriss Abdelmoula (Consultant Pensions).
For more information, contact Bob: bob.vanopstal@igh.com

2019 – Q2 | Further mortgage market shrinkage in the second quarter of 2019

By Banking, Hypotheekupdate, News

Mortgage revenue (-9.1%) and the number of mortgages sold (-12.5%) fell sharply

Compared to the same period last year, mortgage revenue fell by 12.5 percent in the second quarter of 2019, as consultancy firm IG&H’s Mortgage Update points out. Since the average mortgage loan only grows to a limited extent, mortgage revenue is also considerably lower than a year ago (-9.1 percent). As a result, this is the third consecutive quarter in which the mortgage market is shrinking on an annual basis.

In the past quarter, the average mortgage loan rose to a record amount of 317,000 euros – only a slight increase (+0.5 percent) compared to the first quarter of 2019 and a clear indication that growth of the mortgage loan is decreasing.

“There are signs across the board that the trend of strong growth in the mortgage market, which has persisted for years, seems to be broken,” says Joppe Smit, who works at consultancy and implementation firm IG&H. “This is the third consecutive quarter in which we observe shrinkage on an annual basis, although the second quarter of 2019 was better than the first three months of the year. Record year 2018 seems to remain unparalleled, which will put an end to the consecutive growth of the past five years.”

Mortgage refinancers grow increasingly important
Most mortgages (more than 31,000) are still taken out by existing homeowners. This is an 8-percent increase compared to the previous quarter. Mortgage refinancers show the strongest quarterly growth with 13 percent. “The number of mortgage refinancers continues to grow,” says Smit. “Mortgage lenders and consultants that specifically target this group can take advantage of this. On the other hand, it makes banks with large mortgage portfolios vulnerable. They will need to do more to retain these customers.”

Mortgage is one click away with an app
A notable trend in the mortgage market is the growing interest of banks and insurers in simplifying mortgage applications. The market is in the early stages of a digital data transition. “Right now, it’s not yet possible to take out a new mortgage on the sole basis of digital data,” says Smit. “Several sources with reliable and verified data have now been unlocked, but the number of sources should be increased. In addition, mortgage lenders should adjust their processes and systems in such a way that digital applications can also be processed immediately. It’s simply a matter of time before we can submit a complete mortgage application with a few clicks.”

IG&H is one of the initiators of ‘Handig!’ (Handy!). The purpose of this partnership between HDN, ING, NHG, Florius, ABN Amro, Rabobank, De Hypotheker, and IG&H is to make the process of applying for a mortgage as fast and complete as possible based on digital, validated source data. “We see that more and more parties are exploring digital possibilities,” says Smit. “DUO, for example, experiments with possibilities to make government data easier to share, but other parts of the government also follow these developments with interest. Developments will accelerate once they get on board, too.”

Sincerely,

Joppe Smit
Director at IG&H
E: joppe.smit@igh.com T: 0031 6 2035 2438

IG&H Mortgage Update – authors & data analysis:
Niels Roelofs (niels.roelofs@igh.com); Sophie Dijkkamp (sophie.dijkkamp@igh.com)

Foreign insurers spread their wings on the Dutch non-life market

By IGH, Insurance, News

In the past three years, foreign insurers have managed to increase their premium volume to more than 10% of the Dutch non-life market, according to a study conducted by IG&H. More and more foreign risk bearers enter the Dutch insurance market without reporting to DNB, helped by a mismatch between customer demand and offer, rising premiums, harmonizing legislation, and consultants who professionalize.

The newspapers are full of press releases about foreign risk bearers that enter the Dutch market, but exact figures on their size are difficult to find because new entrants don’t report to DNB. Now, it’s possible through a combination of interviews as well as public and IG&H data.

Whereas Dutch risk bearers have grown by barely 3% a year in recent years, foreign risk bearers have managed to record an annual growth of more than 10% up to approximately €1.6 billion GWP in 2018. This means they now hold more than 10% of the Dutch non-life market (note: this 10% concerns foreign risk bearers that have never reported in the Netherlands and therefore don’t include Allianz and Amlin, for example). The premium volume is still highly concentrated – approximately 80% of this premium volume is still provided by risk bearers that have been active in the Netherlands for a long time (e.g. Chubb, AIG, and Lloyd’s). However, this division is expected to become less concentrated in the coming years.

New players such as Starstone, China Taiping, and CNA Hardy expand the number of mandated brokers step by step, focusing primarily on corporate non-life insurances at the larger, professional consulting firms and service providers. In doing so, they indicate their specific desire to grow as well as their assiduous search for larger limits. Furthermore, interviews point out that risk bearers organize themselves with the long term in mind – by implementing Dutch management with market experience, among other things.

Impact on the Dutch insurance landscape

This expansion of foreign risk bearers has a major impact on the Dutch insurance landscape. Traditional full-service insurers are coming under further pressure. Whereas in the past, successful and profitable activities could be realized in the Dutch non-life market through one of the three value chain roles (full-service insurer, mandated broker, consultant), the mere role of underwriter has been successfully established now, too.

This means insurers are now being attacked in a part of the value chain where they used to operate relatively unopposed. On top of that, foreign parties can reap the benefits of international diversification and a position that’s often stronger in financial terms, which means they hold strong cards for this position.

This doesn’t directly sideline traditional full-service insurers. In the search for distinction, though, many Dutch insurers will be forced to delve deeper into specific target groups and risks. While doing so, it’s important that they truly provide added value through an in-depth understanding of local customer needs, through (data-driven) expertise, and by expanding the offer with related services. Instead of mere insurances, they should offer complete solutions, which provide a distinctiveness that is difficult to match for foreign competitors. For foreign risk bearers, the Dutch market represents a relatively small share in the total portfolio, and they often lack specific (target group-related) knowledge about the Netherlands.

If you want to read the full paper in Dutch, please find it here.

Written by: Jan Pieter van der Helm (director insurance), Jeroen Enthoven (consultant insurance) and Remon Balster (consultant insurance)

Digital transformations; how companies can quickly test whether the latest technology is of value

By News, Technology

More often, organizations notice that their old IT-systems are an obstruction for innovation. To meet changing customer wishes, it is important that they can adapt and innovate at a rapid speed. Anyone who wants to work with the best available new technology, faces a difficult challenge. How do you test which technology is valuable?

In the area of IT, organizations are often faced with a dilemma: while systems based on old technology make for long development lead times, the transition to new(er) technologies requires an investment. That is why an organization should first identify the biggest bottlenecks in the current IT landscape. More than once, these bottlenecks will not only be IT related, but involve of the business(processes) as well.

A Proof of Concept (PoC) can, in a few weeks, demonstrate how modern technology eliminates organizations’ bottlenecks while usually requiring less labor. It is a chance for the entire organization – including both business and IT – to experience what it’s like to work with new technology before making a final decision. As a result, the new technology will be more logical and enjoyable to work with for the user afterwards. Upon approval, the old technology can be decommissioned in small steps.

What is a Proof of Concept?

Organizations can use a PoC to shorten a time-consuming selection process with months-long lead times. By experimenting with new technology in a short period of time, concrete results are instantly visible. Moreover, this allows the entire organization to familiarize itself with the associated new way of working, which increases internal support.

Three aspects are crucial to determine whether new technology fits the organizations needs:

  1. Functionality: What will the new technology ultimately be used for? Do the functionalities match the business and customer’s wishes?
  2. IT architecture: Does the new technology fit the existing IT landscape? Does it provide enough options, such as security and scalability?
  3. Operability: Can a developer work smoothly with the new technology? Does it enforce the digital transformation, and does it improve the collaboration between business and IT? Does the organization become more flexible, and does it facilitate an Agile working or DevOps method?

Based on these three aspects, the organization draws up a list of epics. An epic outlines the main functionalities an organization wishes to include in the PoC. Usually, these are formulated based on current bottlenecks, which may include issues with certain calculation rules or a system that can’t properly handle the current amount of data. A PoC helps proving the new technology can fulfill the business and IT requirements.

The first MVP’s in a few weeks

When providing organizations with guidance on PoCs, it’s best to implement the PoC development process in the most realistic possible way. This gives the organization the clearest idea of the usage of technology.

A full-time dedicated team is structured as follows:

  • A Scrum master who facilitates the PoC team
  • Experienced developers for product’ development, who will also serve as trainers to unexperienced developers
  • A few enthusiastic developers (from the organization) for product’ development, who can contribute knowledge gained within the organization

Optional:

  • A product owner for product qualification, who can also write and test user stories

If the organization is fairly unfamiliar with the technology in question, a suitable bootcamp will be organized first. This will ensure every developer has sufficient basic knowledge to help develop the product from the beginning. Once the team is complete and ready, it’s time to start the PoC.

During a planning session, we determine which user stories will be tackled first, working according to the Agile method – in sprints. At the end of this period, the partial product (or MVP; Minimal Viable Product) will be shown to a larger audience. All stakeholders are invited. Often, these demos are more extensive than the normal sprint demos. They contain a clear introduction, and the use of the technology is discussed – by sharing developers’ experiences, among other things. A good demo creates understanding within the organization. The business gets a full picture of the platform’s potential and can aim more accurately for tangible results. This will ultimately lead to more freedom in its product innovation.

After each sprint, it’s time for a retrospective. This is the moment to evaluate the collaboration and technology. By being open and honest with each other, you can make the PoC even more effective. In addition to the bootcamp and demos, a deep dive is also advised. Through one or two sessions on the possibilities, developers, IT architects, and other interested people fully understand the new technology. Each question is asked and/or every concern is voiced (e.g. regarding interfaces, testing, security and integration).

PoC results

After the last demo, we enter the decision-making stage. The decision to introduce new technology has proven to be difficult, but it is now supported by the various layers of the organization and tangible results of the PoC. Ultimately, the coordination and commitment of important stakeholders and departments will determine the total lead time of this decision-making process.

In experience, developers do not wait for a decision to be made. During the time they have worked with new technology, they have made significant progress. As a result, they have often developed an enormous drive to proceed – which makes a PoC so sought after. In addition, the added value for the end customer is readily apparent, which motivates employees and ensures they do not want to stop. In other words, it is built for success!

‘Flevoland healthcare landscape has all ingredients to continue to deliver high-quality and accessible healthcare’

By Health, News

The current Dutch Flevoland healthcare landscape has all the ingredients to continue to deliver high-quality and accessible healthcare – now and in the future. That’s the main conclusion from a report by Bas Leerink, explorer of the future and partner at IG&H.

Download the full report here (in Dutch).

In the past few months, Leerink and his team of IG&H consultants have defined a vision of healthcare in the Dutch province Flevoland from 2020 onwards. To this end, they’ve had extensive talks with residents, healthcare providers, health insurers, and the local government. They’ve also made extensive calculations and analyses of all scenarios. Moreover, regulators NZA (Dutch Healthcare Authority) and IGJ (Health and Youth Care Inspectorate) have been actively involved and have responded to the report. They don’t have any objections.

As an explorer of the future, Leerink recommends a step-by-step improvement of the current healthcare provision as the best approach for Flevoland. The province shouldn’t seek to restore the situation that existed before the bankruptcy. Therefore, the emergency room and acute obstetrics will not be reopened in Lelystad.

This is a difficult matter for many parties involved, but restoring the situation that existed before the bankruptcy doesn’t offer a solution for future demand. Furthermore, it’s neither realistic nor feasible in the short term. In the report, Leerink makes several recommendations. If this Agenda for Healthcare is realized, it will turn Flevoland into a leading region in the sector.

Importance of close collaboration

The bankruptcy of the former MC IJsselmeer hospitals has damaged the citizen’s trust in healthcare (parties) and the extent to which they’re able to really put the public interest in available, accessible, and good healthcare first. Now, researchers observe that healthcare (particularly the networks of healthcare professionals) is being restored in terms of content. The trust of citizens – reflected in local governments, the Flevoland Patient Federation (FPF), and Stichting Actie Behoud Ziekenhuis Lelystad (foundation to promote the preservation of a general hospital in Lelystad) – is still fragile.

Therefore, the explorer of the future proposes to keep analyzing and monitoring the situation carefully, and to continue consulting with all parties involved through Zorgtafel Flevoland (healthcare table Flevoland) in the coming year. The latter is supported by a progress meeting, chaired by the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport. It also offers the option of addressing bottlenecks and escalating progress-related problems. The Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport can use the outcomes of the meeting to inform the Dutch Lower House of Parliament.

Acute healthcare

One of the issues that damaged trust encompasses concerns about accessible emergency care. Before the bankruptcy, patients with an acute, life-threatening condition, such as a heart attack, were sent to the Zwolle-based hospital. This procedure will be maintained. Because of the emergency outpatient department in Lelystad and the local emergency room in Emmeloord, it’s possible to provide care in the area in the case of low-complex emergency conditions.

To relieve pressure on these surrounding hospitals, it’s important to set up an acute care data science team in Flevoland. The team can contribute to the improvement of processes, which can increase the availability and effectiveness of emergency rooms. Currently, the St Jansdal hospital provides the emergency outpatient department at the Lelystad location and the emergency room at the Harderwijk location, which means it’s logical to start with this hospital.

By deploying data and new technology in the right way, ambulance care in Flevoland can take the lead in data-driven process improvement in the short term. This may serve as an example for other regional ambulance facilities in the Netherlands in the long term.

Obstetric care

The disappearance of acute obstetrics in Lelystad means that part of the people in Flevoland need to travel a longer distance in acute obstetric situations. The increase in travel distance means it’s easier to use an ambulance.

A new type of collaboration is needed to keep providing good birth care. Carefully organizing the unchanged demand for care within the context of the altered care provision – both primary and secondary care – is a priority. Recently, new partnerships have already been established between all care providers involved. They have given tremendous effort to reach additional agreements, which has strengthened cooperation and mutual trust.The explorer of the future also recommends that birth care in Lelystad is supported for one year.

The starting point is to offer birth care in the pregnant woman’s area if possible, and to provide it in a clinical setting as quickly as possible if the case in question so requires. Birth care providers are obstetricians or obstetrically active primary care physicians, secondary and tertiary care obstetricians and gynecologists, the regional ambulance facility (only in the case of acute obstetrics), and maternity care.

Care and support for vulnerable groups of people

The growing number of vulnerable elderly people with a complex, often cross-domain demand for care and the increasing health differences between socio-economic groups require far-reaching cooperation between care and welfare organizations and municipalities.

An adapted form of the neighborhood clinic in Amsterdam would be an interesting initiative for Lelystad. This clinic’s target group consists of patients with a combination of geriatric problems and, for example, pneumonia, COPD, heart failure, a bladder infection, or neurological symptoms. The results are positive – patients experience less loss of function, and the number of readmissions and emergency room visits is reduced, among other things. Several parties have now entered into discussions, and the first plans for such an initiative in Lelystad are being developed.

There is also a demand for primary care plus in the Noordoostpolder. Chain partners have signed a letter of intent for the new health plaza to be built in Emmeloord. This care concept will offer room for day treatments, convalescence, and observation beds, among other things. The various parties’ involvement enables far-reaching cooperation.

Furthermore, the number of residents with a chronic condition, which is already relatively high in Lelystad, is expected to increase sharply. One of the numerous action points that should be implemented according to the explorer of the future is the deployment of e-health initiatives. However, it is essential to pay attention to the limited digital and health literacy among part of the population. Finally, it is important for health insurers to support these initiatives – that is, if they don’t already.

Vision for the future of healthcare in Flevoland

In January, after the sudden bankruptcy of the IJsselmeer hospitals last fall, minister Bruno Bruins appointed Leerink. The disappearance of the emergency room and obstetric care caused much unrest in Flevoland. As an explorer of the future, it was Leerink’s job to make a thorough inventory of the healthcare market in Flevoland and to subsequently outline both short-term and long-term needs.

Healthcare vendors want less market and more cooperation

By Health, News

Purchasing and selling between healthcare providers and insurers is increasingly a strategic activity. New mutual agreements do not merely consist of budgeting and enabling expense claims. On the contrary, both parties contribute their strategic intentions. As a result, healthcare contracting becomes the starting point for joint projects. IG&H conducted a research among hospital healthcare vendors and found that healthcare contracting is increasingly at the heart of the healthcare system. To cope with core healthcare issues, however, more cooperation is required.

Download the Zorgverkoopmonitor 2019 (healthcare vendor monitor 2019) here (in Dutch).

In the Zorgverkoopmonitor 2019, IG&H takes stock with healthcare vendors and looks at the future. Nearly 25 healthcare vendors and finance managers at hospitals and clinics participated in the research. Together, they represent a total revenue of approximately €8 billion.

It turns out healthcare vendors want to set aside twice as much time to discuss policy themes and quality with insurers. Currently, price and volume still dominate more than 60% of all meetings. If it is up to healthcare vendors, 50% rather than 25% of meetings will be about substantive themes, such as the right care in the right place, meaningful care, and a vision of the region.

Approximately half of the respondents have concluded long-range agreements with the largest insurer – and a quarter of them with nearly all insurers – laying a solid foundation for a different type of meeting. ‘Unfortunately,’ not all of these are cooperations between providers and insurers. Part of the long-range agreements are simply concluded because banks require financial security. However, these long-range agreements provide peace of mind and room for a different type of meeting.

There’s a reason why healthcare vendors appreciate insurers bringing their own vision of healthcare to the table. You may disagree on this vision, but it is the main reason why 45% of healthcare vendors consider Zilveren Kruis the most professional of healthcare purchasers, and 25% believe it to be VGZ. According to healthcare vendors, they have set up a proper foundation for healthcare purchasing, and it is now time to give healthcare purchasers more authority and room for customization.

Ultimately, 30% of healthcare vendors consider the affordability of healthcare as the main challenge – especially the gradual transition (25%) to a different healthcare landscape (25%).

Healthcare vendors mainly want realistic financing, and they are willing to contribute to a financial transition. They, too, realize that healthcare should remain affordable for everyone. At the same time, they also need to deal with fixed accommodation and staff expenses, which means they can’t rush into cutting costs.

The art of concluding contracts in a new era

Even though they seem to have conflicting interests at times, healthcare providers and insurers face the same task. Of course, it can be completed through harsh negotiations, but lowering revenues and costs together requires a substantive cooperation.

The latter starts with mutual trust, which is created by truly empathizing with the other party.

The next step is for both parties to define a shared ambition that serves each party’s interests. Develop a vision of the region or certain types of healthcare, look beyond your own organization, and determine what it is you want to achieve together. Set up a joint project group, allow each other access to data, and perform the analysis together. Joining forces will automatically eliminate old behavioral habits. Discussions will no longer be about each letter in the contract but about what is good for the patient, the policy holder, and society. This will ultimately benefit insurers and healthcare providers, too.

By Walter Kien, Senior Manager Healthcare

Considerable shrinkage in mortgage market in the first quarter of 2019

By Banking, Hypotheekupdate, News

The amount of mortgages issued fell sharply in the first three months of 2019. According to consultancy firm IG&H’s mortgage update, it was the number of first-time and existing homeowners in particular that dropped significantly. “Currently, we also observe a considerable decrease in the number of mortgage refinancers. In 2018, this group was still responsible for the growth of the mortgage market,” says IG&H’s Joppe Smit.

Click here to read the full report (in Dutch).

The average mortgage loan was €316,000 in the first quarter of this year – a 5.2-percent increase compared to the same period last year. This growth is mainly due to the sharp rise in mortgage loans for mortgage refinancers. In the purchasing market, the average mortgage loan remains virtually constant.

Mortgage revenue is shrinking

In the first quarter of 2019, the total mortgage revenue was nearly €22 billion – a 9.6-percent shrinkage compared to the first quarter of 2018, and the largest since 2013. Compared to Q4 2018, the decrease was as high as 22.8%. In previous years, the usual decrease in Q1 was partly due to a reduction in the maximum loan-to-value on the annual limit and the additional growth in the fourth quarter, which compensated for this.

This year, neither of these developments is perceived. “The sharp decline we currently observe is truly a deviation from the trend after years of growth,” says Smit. “Both the relatively limited housing supply and the difficult position of first-time homeowners are to blame for it.”

Growth in large banks’ share

The banks’ share increased by 2 percentage points to 64.1 percent. This growth mainly comes from the three large banks, which saw their combined market share rise by 1.3 percentage points to 51.3 percent. Investment funds enabling non-bank lending also saw their share grow – by 1 percentage point to 18.3 percent.

IG&H further expands its digital transformation practice

By IGH, News

Consultancy firm IG&H has acquired a highly experienced team of platform technology experts – including senior developers and enterprise cloud architects – in Portugal. The team has more than 10 years of international experience on high-productivity platforms, such as leading platform OutSystems, and is led by Nuno Pacheco.

In the Netherlands, an agreement was reached with Isengard Solutions, as well as OutSystems platform experts and developers, to join IG&H. In the past year, an intensive collaboration with Isengard already showed how Isengard’s software expertise and IG&H’s business expertise were a winning combination in realizing impactful company-wide transformations.

“Our business contacts in retail, healthcare, and finance want to digitize faster. Central to this are mobile applications as well as the renewal of core systems. Through high-productivity platforms such as OutSystems, we can provide them with innovative business solutions considerably faster and at lower cost,” says Jan van Hasenbroek, founder and managing partner of IG&H.

“The track record of our new co-workers in Portugal and the sector expertise of IG&H offer us the opportunity to grow more quickly. By joining forces, we can offer our customers a design, build and run solution, and we will become one of OutSystems’ main technology and business partners in Europe,” says Martin Westra, CEO of Isengard.

From now on, both entities will fall under the name ‘IG&H Platform Services.’ Currently, approximately 100 high-quality experts are already active in the IG&H Technology domain. As further growth is anticipated, IG&H will open a new office in Lisbon and a training center in Coimbra (Portugal) in June.

About Isengard Solutions:

Isengard Solutions focuses on the development of innovative customized information systems and offers consultancy and development services based on the OutSystems Low-Code Platform. Founded in 2017, this young company has evolved rapidly over the past year by building both mobile and end-to-end applications.

About OutSystems:

OutSystems is the fast-growing, leading platform for company-wide applications. It was named a ‘leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise High-Productivity Application Platforms as a Service’ several years in a row. Founded in Lisbon in 2001, OutSystems is now active in 52 countries and 22 industries. Its uniqueness stems from the fact that it applies the power of low-code software development to both mobile applications and business-critical core processes. Find more information on www.OutSystems.com.

About IG&H:

IG&H Group is active in the field of consultancy and technology. As a sector expert, IG&H focuses on retail, finance, and healthcare. Currently, the company has 260 committed professionals who help organizations realize the digital transformation to radical customer focus. IG&H has been recognized as a ‘Great Place to Work’ and has a Net Promotor Score of >60, which is considered very high. Find more information on www.igh.com.

Dutch retailers still rated higher than Amazon and Alibaba

By IGH, News, Retail, Retail

Coolblue has the best customer experience in the Netherlands, according to research by consultancy firm IG&H among 2000 consumers. De Bijenkorf and Bol.com follow second and third. It is surprising that there are no foreign retail chains in the top 5. “Web shops like Amazon and Alibaba do not yet understand the Dutch consumer”, is what retail experts Joris de Bruin and Evelien Kip of IG&H tell us.

“According to the survey, web shops such as Amazon and Alibaba, which are considered the biggest competitors to Dutch shops, do not yet meet the customers’ demands. They can be experienced as confusing and making a purchase often turns out to be unnecessarily complex. This is partly due to the fact of a perceived language gap, and not meeting the high standards Dutch customers have towards user-friendliness of online stores” retail expert De Bruin says.

Previous IG&H research showed that retailers with a relentless focus on personal attention, the right ambiance and inspiring the customer, are most appreciated. “Online, this is what is meant by a user-friendly, attractive website with decision making support. This must be aimed at providing the customer with the right information in order to make the best choice quickly and carefree. Coolblue does this exceptionally well: good filters, extensive product reviews and top-10 choice lists,” says De Bruin. The top 3 is complemented by Albert Heijn and de Bijenkorf, who inspire the customer and create a good atmosphere as well.

It is also worth mentioning that highly-valued web shops outperform the others by means of surprising customers. De Bruin mentions de Bijenkorf and Coolblue as an example. “de Bijenkorf packages all ordered products in a nice box and puts a bow around it for a premium shopping experience. Coolblue has a different approach and provides the packaging with some helpful tips or a dose of humor. It is this kind of small detail that positively surprises the customer. It surpasses customer expectations and that is crucial for a web shop to stand out in the market”.

“Consumer has high expectations for daily groceries”

It is surprising that the supermarkets score just as high as the middle- and high-end retailers on expectations. “Customers do not make a distinction between ‘daily shopping’ or more ‘incidental’ purchases. In both cases, customers remain to have high expectations”, says Kip. In terms of expectations, AH.nl is number 4 and Jumbo is number 6.

On the seventh place we have welcomed a foreign player: Amazon. “Customer expectations for foreign retail chains are not high. Alibaba in particular has a rather low score. Consumers still associate the brand with long lead times and affordable products. The hilarious videos on YouTube in which curious consumers are surprised with a bad buy only confirm that image”, she says.

“Customers expect little service from discount retailers”

Action is number ten, and a retailer operating in the discount, value-for-money segment. “We see the complete opposite as with the retailers from the more expensive segments; a good customer experience is not what the customer expects. The question is whether that is bad. One customer probably gave the best answer: “Action is only about offering the lowest price.” If they continue to meet their strong price proposition, it will not harm them. However, if the general customer expectations in the area of Customer Experience increase further, the question is whether retailers such as Action can adjust in time”, warns De Bruin.

Written by: Evelien Kip (Consultant Retail) and Joris de Bruijn (Manager Retail).
Photo: CoolBlue

Bas Leerink: Collaboration is the new competition in healthcare

By Healthcare, News

The healthcare landscape is changing. Third parties are making their entrances, the sector is searching for more collaboration and at the same time feeling the need for specialization. How can the branch find a balance? IG&H Healthpartner Bas Leerink offers his vision with regards to five big challenges.

Leerink joined IG&H as a partner of the Health practice in January. Prior to this, he was chairman of the executive board at Medisch Spectrum Twente, where he was highly praised for helping the hospital emerge stronger from trying times and making the organization more transparent. He has also worked as a director and executive board member at health insurer Menzis.

  • The healthcare landscape is very fragmented. What needs to happen in order to create more unity?

In our healthcare system, many issues depend on each other. The government decides many things, but hospitals and insurance providers also have a big influence. I would like to see all of these parties work together more closely, deciding priorities and choosing a course based on this. At the moment this occurs far too infrequently, as far as I’m concerned.

Since the start of this year, I have been a future scout for the province of Flevoland. I was hired to formulate a vision regarding healthcare in the province starting in 2020. We at IG&H aren’t there to analyse what went wrong during the bankruptcy, but to find out how we can reach an agreement with all stakeholders to continue in the same direction. You can see that there has been much damage done to the balance between municipalities, doctors, insurance providers, and specialists. They need each other in order to be able to help patients, but they aren’t able to find each other at the moment.

I believe that IG&H’s role is to make it possible again. Together with every party involved, we look at how we can leave the past behind in order to be able to once again focus on caring for the patient. That’s what we are doing it for in the end, not in order to sustain an institution. I look for harmony and connection within organizations and enjoy being able to contribute to this.

  • In the past six years, you have been intensively involved as a hospital director in Value Based Healthcare projects. When is this method useful for healthcare institutions?

Because of the focus on regulations and costs, we sometimes lose sight of how we in healthcare can systematically improve the outcome for the patient. The Value Based Health Care method makes sure the focus is on the patient. You should not ask directors or managers to think about this subject, as patients and professionals are able to perform this task much better. As a board, you must help to facilitate and execute these improvements.

In my previous function, we used Value Based Health Care (VBHC) as an improvement tool between professionals of 7 hospitals, united in the Santeon group.  We were able to create multidisciplinary teams that improved outcomes and costs for patients in 7 hospitals for 11 medical conditions. And the improvements were significant! Not everybody is convinced that VBHC is the way formard for health care, and indeed it is not a solution for all problems. But it definitely is a very powerful way to improve outcomes for patients. At IG&H can create added value in these discussions by bringing people together,  And facilitating the creation of improvement dashboards from the diverse systems that are being used in hospitals.

  • Another current issue is the call for specialization in healthcare. What is your take on that?

In every branch of business that is currently developing, there is a call for specialization. That is now also the case in healthcare. An important question in this debate is whether it is possible as a board of directors of a healthcare organization to make sure that every part of the organization you are responsible for functions optimally. Can these specializations develop according to the latest state of the art standards?

Many directors believe that it is possible for hospitals to specialize in various fields. I think that this is not feasible in the end. Take a look, for example, at the field of pathology. You are substantively educated to do that work; it’s a profession. At the same time, this job is very much in development due to technical possibilities, such as digitalization or new molecular possibilities for ideal diagnostic performance, for example. I don’t think that it is possible for every hospital to be at the forefront of these new developments and to be able to offer these to patients.

  • At the same time, we are seeing that more and more commercial parties are taking over specialized issues in healthcare. How should hospitals deal with this?

We are already seeing that certain laboratories are working together with each other, allowing them to bundle their areas of expertise. In the future, more of these new groups will come into being, maybe even from overseas.

This development is approaching and brings a few questions with it. Hospitals are no longer owners of these organizations. That is new –and exciting- for us in the healthcare branch. How will hospitals and other companies come up with offers and in which way can collaboration be productive? It is important to expressly think about the long term and the value for patients with regards to this.

  • It is clear that e-health is going to play an increasingly large role in healthcare. How should the branch respond to this?

You can already see that hospitals are taking steps in this direction. For example, they are creating patient portals, making medical information such as blood test results available at home. In this manner, it’s possible for patients to follow their own care processes.

Big tech players also collect various data, such as the Apple watch. This information can be connected to a personal platform which allows you to see health trends.

I don’t think it will be long before these kinds of trends are represented everywhere. At the moment, hospitals are not able to respond to them. They are stuck in all kinds of ICT systems and packages that prescribe our internal processes.

If they do not respond in a timely fashion to these developments, they will be overtaken by big players and lose control. That’s why it is important that they start thinking now about ways to for the client to also occupy centre stage in the field of technology.

There are various ways to make this possible. At IG&H, we are big supporters of platform technology. That makes it possible to create a flexible shell around the pre-existing ICT structure, allowing fast and effective applications to be developed. This allows you to control the costs and maintain control as an organization.