Valerie Denney puts some questions to three leading risk management information systems suppliers to gauge how their industry is developing and how risk managers are contributing to this.

George A. Moore, sales and marketing, American Technical Services, Inc.

Could you explain your company's background and the products it offers?

American Technical Services, Inc. (ATS) is a privately held corporation that was formed in 1986 to provide quality risk management information systems and services to be utilized by carriers, insurance brokers and large user groups. Fortune 500 corporations, municipalities, insured, self-insured groups and entities and third party administrators are representative of clients who utilize our systems.

ATS offers development, sales and support of integrated modular software products for risk management and claims administration needs. Both turnkey and custom applications support accident and sickness, health, employee benefits, disability management, workers' compensation, and property/casualty. The software packages include both standard and optional utilities such as exposure/ incident/event tracking, first and supplemental reporting, bill and utilization review, HMO/PPO/MCO review, policy management, imaging, custom EDI and interface applications for cost containment, finance, disability, human resources, and payroll systems. Standard and optional ad hoc decision tools support management reporting needs.

What difference do these products make to your clients' bottom line?

When utilized at their maximum capability, our risk management information systems provide the means of achieving significant savings in insurance costs.

Are you finding that the clients today are demanding more than ever before?

Clients today are more savvy on risk management information systems (RMIS). The increase in the number of companies in the RMIS development field and the injection of new technology have contributed largely to this situation. The evidence supports the contention clients are demanding more in systems.

Is it true to say that risk management information systems are becoming an ever more vital component in risk managers' programs?

Surprisingly, many risk managers are continuing to utilize outdated systems that fall seriously short of the capabilities of current systems. However, managers in increasing numbers are recognizing the importance of risk management information systems in today's business environment.

How do you see your company/ products developing in the future?

ATS has seen the demise of RMIS developers during the past few years - a result directly attributable to the absence of the best and latest technology in their products. Here at ATS, we have recently released our 32-bit ATS for Windows™ (Version 4.01), Oracle and SQL. Our software continues the tradition of being current.

Carolena Cogdill, marketing manager, Corporate Systems.

Could you explain your company's background and the products it offers?

Corporate Systems (CS) was formed in 1967 and is the only independent provider of risk management services in the United States. We offer a variety of products to assist companies manage their cost of risk. Within the three production/service groups of data collection, data management, and data reporting we provide the following products. Data collection: data conversion services, automated accident reporting, electronic data interchange. Data management: claims administration systems, a medical cost management system, and a disability claims management system. Data reporting: an ad hoc report writer, and batch reporting facilities. Our systems handle auto liability, general liability, crime, workers' compensation, short and long term disability, and medical bill repricing.

What difference do these products make to your clients' bottom line?

Our systems provide our clients the ability to identify and analyze loss exposures which may include property losses, liability losses, or personnel losses. They can see exactly when and where the losses are occurring, and proactively take measures to control these losses. Therefore, by effectively and efficiently managing these loss exposures, our clients save money.

Are you finding that the clients today are demanding more than ever before?

Clients tell us they do not want or need more data; they are inundated with it. Our clients have greater demands placed on them today to provide meaningful, analytical information to their top management. They want a consolidated picture so that they can quickly analyze the volumes of data to gain knowledge which will help them make sound business decisions.

Is it true to say that risk management information systems are becoming an ever more vital component in risk managers' programs?

A risk management information system is emerging as a key requirement for risk managers in virtually any size organization. There are three principle reasons why this is so.

1. Businesses now retain significant portions of their own risk. They "control their own destiny" in this regard, and an appropriate RMIS is crucial to effectively managing the associated dollars.

2. Risk data is valuable, and often high proprietary, if not confidential. RMIS whether "in-house" or remote, allow the business to "own" their own data.

3. With their own RMIS, risk managers can report off their own data in ways that most readily meet their business needs, rather than relying on reports that someone else has designed and which often have only partial application to the business' information needs.

How do you see your company/ products developing in the future?

CS will develop its products and services to support the major trends in the property/casualty insurance arena, including:

* Case management systems integration.

* 24 hour integration of benefits, including integrated reporting and administration of workers' compensation, group health and disability benefits.

* Management of employee productivity interruption due to absence or illness.

* Compliance with state and federal regulatory issues.

* Electronic interchange of information between participants in the property/casualty insurance industry including regulatory agencies, administrators, carriers, employees and employers.

* Data warehousing and decision support mechanisms.

Thomas P. Brooks, vice president sales, WLT Software of Florida Inc.

Could you explain your company's background and the products it offers?

WLT is a custom software development firm founded in 1979. Our primary product line consists of managed care and claims management solutions for medical, dental, life, vision, long and short term disability, FLEX, COBRA, workers' compensation, and more. WLT also offers reinsurance, eligibility, premium billing, agent commission, PPO, HMO, and EDI solutions.

What difference do these products make to your clients' bottom line?

WLT's clients benefit from their use of our systems in many ways, such as increased efficiency in customer service, faster turn around on claims, reduced labor expenses, and more. WLT offers the least expensive, comprehensive claims solutions offering many insurance related organizations cost relief from our more expensive competitors. In many instances, WLT systems will replace the need for in-house programmers.

Are you finding that the clients today are demanding more than ever before?

Clients today are more demanding than ever, and not unreasonably so. Our clients have to bring on new business while keeping existing customers satisfied. With so many competitors, and so many options available, you need to have a great deal of flexibility and be able to adapt quickly to client demands.

Is it true to say that risk management information systems are becoming an ever more vital component in risk managers' programs?

Risk management information systems are crucial in any serious risk manager's program.

How do you see your company/ products developing in the future?

WLT is continually modifying the products it offers to accommodate industry related trends and also to accommodate and make use of new technologies. Our latest version of the software will be NT based and using Oracle as a database manager to allow system scalability and virtually unlimited access and attachment to any of the captured data.

Valerie Denney is editor of this publication.