Flexibility in the Face of Uncertainty: Thriving in a Global Pandemic

In the face of mass shutdowns and widespread uncertainty, MPX proved to be a reliable port in the storm for its clients — delivering reliability, consistency and flexibility through it all to ensure that “business as usual” continued as much as possible in these highly unusual times.

“Flexibility and teamwork have always been hallmarks of MPX as a company. In a crisis, it’s essential to have your whole team working toward a common goal and ready to shift resources to not only address the crisis, but also to keep everyday operations running uninterrupted.” – Ryan Jackson, Chief Executive Officer, MPX

In March 2020, the entire world came to a standstill as the COVID-19 pandemic put life as we knew it on hold. People quarantined, schools closed and businesses altered or shuttered their operations. For some businesses, like the health plans working with HealthLinq®, operations needed to continue uninterrupted as members scrambled to understand their coverage in the face of what would be a historic health crisis of unprecedented scale.

“Thinking back to March 2020, we were all suddenly shifted from the norm of business travel and onsite work to isolation, remote work and trying to navigate a tremendous amount of uncertainty,” says Tim Cole, Chief Operating Officer for MPX.  “No one even knew if the mail would move. Some countries stopped the mail completely because no one knew if the mail would CARRY the disease. We were left with more questions than answers. Will the mail move? Will we be working? Will our team be safe and healthy? We were wrestling with these questions. Clients were wrestling with them too. We did know that somehow we would be there for our clients.”

In the face of a global pandemic that included widespread forced shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, health plan corporate officers, crisis managers and operations managers at all levels were faced with the prospect of how to continue business as normal with an abruptly decentralized workforce and government enforced closures with no clear answer as to when operations could return to “business as usual.”

“Flexibility and teamwork have always been hallmarks of MPX as a company,” comments Ryan Jackson, MPX Chief Executive Officer. “In a crisis, it’s essential to have your whole team working toward a common goal and ready to shift resources to not only address the crisis, but also to keep everyday operations running uninterrupted. No challenge has ever tested the skills and flexibility of our team like COVID.”

As the gravity of the situation quickly became apparent, the MPX team took action to ensure three very vital things were maintained:

Communications. Because of the new norm of decentralized workforces, project managers immediately established new communication protocols that included emergency numbers for all key decision makers and managers at each account. This was especially vital in the event the postal system did shut down or go into a different pattern of operation. Thankfully, this didn’t occur, but what did was a lot of important conversations that helped deepen our connections with our clients.

Operations. While some of our work could be accomplished remotely, production could only be done onsite. To ensure the safety of our workers, we opened up new production space and positioned workstations twenty feet apart for maximum social distancing. We then not only added more production shifts, but eliminated the overlap of shifts so there would be no passing of workers, even in the parking lot. Temperature and health checks were conducted routinely and meals were brought in for staff to mitigate community exposure. And while many other companies were furloughing employees, we hired extra staff for extra coverage in the event anyone became ill or unable to work onsite, increasing our staff by 10-15% overall.

Commodities. Not long into the start of the pandemic, it became apparent that the supply chain was in jeopardy. In response, we immediately  doubled our on-hand inventory to ensure that we could serve our clients needs without delay or interruption.

MPX not only maintained operations during the pandemic, it saw an uptick in demand for HealthLinq® services.

“With a majority of our clients having to shutter their central facilities, we saw a huge increase in demand for inbound mail processing,” says Cole. “Additionally, tools such as our Collateral Manager and Correspondence Hub became invaluable to the now decentralized workforce in managing member communications efficiently.”

The demand for these tools not only increased in volume, but in urgency. With some organizations seeking implementation virtually overnight.

One such third party administrator came to MPX in November 2020, not only in the midst of the COVID crisis, but also during the traditionally chaotic open enrollment period.

“While the timing was less than ideal, the health plan could no longer rely upon its current vendor,” adds Jackson. “So we assembled a core team of programmers, solutions architects and project managers to collaborate with their team in managing the transition down to the minute.”

Over the course of nine days, this collaborative team of talent from both MPX and the client, worked in close concert to transition eight plans, each composed of approximately twenty-five unique document types, to a new format and system, a process that, on average, usually takes six to nine weeks.

“Open enrollment is the busiest, most vital time of the health plan business cycle,” says Cole. “It wasn’t a matter of could we get it done in time, it was a matter of HOW do we get it done in time.”

“This project was a good practice in teamwork and really tested our abilities and let our strengths shine,” continues Jackson. “We were able to manage the crisis and maintain business as usual for our other clients as well. And because of our attitude and performance on this project, the client is now actively working to shift more projects to us because they trust we can get the work done.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has truly tested the limits of companies of all kinds around the world. MPX and HealthLinq® clients have found that teamwork combined with the kind of flexibility focused on getting the job done and done right is what’s served them well not only before and during this crisis, but looking to the future as well.