“Choosing LCL Data Centers is choosing technical expertise as well as human compatibility”

The words that linger the longest, are often spoken towards the end of a conversation. How about “we often lack pride in our professional achievements”, as Wim Van Heesbeke, Chief Information Officer at MUTUAL-IT, let slip? “I came up with a catchphrase that combines both elements: Be Pro(ud).” It’s no wonder the IT department of the Independent Health Insurance Funds moves mountains every day. Head of Infrastructure & Operations Sophie Verstrynge translates it into numbers “Around 6 million Belgians come into contact with our systems – without even realising it. Therefore, our flawless cooperation with LCL Data Centers is key.”

The IT department of the Independent Health Insurance Funds (MUTUAL-IT), being an umbrella organisation, not only provides services to its own health insurance funds (Helan in Flanders with 1 million members, Partenamut in Brussels and Wallonia with 1.2 million members, and the Freie Krankenkasse in German-speaking Belgium), but also to competing health insurance funds. Wim Van Heesbeke: “For about eight years now, we have been the outsourcing partner for the Independent Health Insurance Funds, which have outsourced all their IT services to us. The Christian Health Insurance Fund (CM) literally counts on us because we take care of their calculation engine for everything to do with invalidity – a very complex mechanism. And since January 1, 2024, we have also become the outsourcing partner for the Liberal Health Insurance Funds."

“All in all, it means that the data of 6 million Belgians pass through our systems for replacement incomes due to invalidity,” says Sophie Verstrynge. “And the pharmacist who receives a prescription and checks whether and how the patient is insured to determine the price of their medication. That also happens in a flash via our system. The same goes for doctors, dentists, speech therapists, hospitals, and numerous healthcare providers. Our systems have to be up and running 24/7, all year round.”

No chinks in the armour

But there is more to it than the reimbursement of medical consultations and medicines that health insurance funds are known for. “We are responsible for paying a huge amount of replacement incomes”, Sophie Verstrynge clarifies. “At the moment in Belgium, there are more chronically ill people paid by health insurance funds, than there are unemployed people. That means we need very robust systems to deal with that. If there is a hitch, it immediately has a major impact on people’s lives. Everyone in our organisation realises extremely well that our operations come with great responsibility.”

Wim Van Heesbeke
Wim Van Heesbeke, Chief Information Officer at MUTUAL-IT
Sophie Verstrynge
Sophie Verstrynge, Head of Infrastructure & Operations at MUTUAL-IT

The simpler, the better

The landscape of health insurance funds in Belgium was fragmented until recently. Today, forces are combined, and bigger players work more centrally. To avoid the consolidation movement of complex welfare organisations leading to a newly composed tangle in terms of IT, Wim Van Heesbeke and his strong team of 400 people apply the adopt principle. “We want to make as few adjustments to our system as possible. No customisation for our customers at the heart of the IT, but one central environment. The distinctions used by every fund to build their own identity are made on the front-office applications. Customers see different logos, different colours, different positioning of functionalities… but standardised configurations run in the background to be able to support them technically. The simpler, the better, because by nature, we already have a very heavy and complex IT environment."

Medical data of millions of people

Sophie Verstrynge: “our IT department has a double responsibility: our systems have to work flawlessly, and at the same time we have to invest in innovation, new applications, data security… We try to provide as many tools as possible to allow the health insurance funds to work as optimally as possible.” Data security is a no-brainer for those working with medical data of millions of people. “We don’t make any compromises in that area,” says Wim Van Heesbeke. “But GDPR also plays an important role: what data can we disclose to whom, at what time? Health insurance funds are also increasingly using data to actively promote welfare and guide members in their healthcare, while minimising the administrative burden.”

Human compatibility

MUTUAL-IT has been counting on LCL Data Centers since 2016. There was more than one good reason for this. “Connectivity to both the cloud and the classic telecom players is crucial for us – as is the stability of a robust system”, Sophie Verstrynge points out. “The location of the data centers was also important. We work from Anderlecht, so LCL’s Aalst and Diegem sites are ideally located for risk-spreading, without having to compromise on performance. The proximity also makes it easier to carry out interventions ourselves. Aside from all the technical expertise LCL provides as a Tier 3 data center – so far, we have run a flawless course together- we think it’s very important to not be an anonymous number. Whenever we have a question or need a service, we know that LCL is there to help us find the right solutions. The importance of this human compatibility cannot be underestimated for a smooth and trustworthy collaboration. We know you; you know us.”

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