Medicare plans are mid-way through the process of creating Annual Election Period (AEP) materials – namely, Annual Notification of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) documents – that are due to members by the end of September.

At this stage of the game, tension is running high. By now, many health plans have likely discovered the way they were planning on creating the documents won’t work, have encountered issues with vendors, or any other number of challenges that put tasks and timelines into a tailspin.

This follow-up piece provides advice for how to push through bottlenecks, solve last-minute challenges and get compliant AEP materials out accurately and on time.

1.     Address Critical Timeline Challenges Immediately

If any tasks on your timeline are slipping, focus on addressing the critical missed deadlines as quickly as possible. If your team was having meetings once a week, now is the time to increase meeting frequency to twice a week, or as often as necessary. In addition, the marketing communications team should communicate daily, keep management abreast of the status of projects, and stay alert for possible roadblocks that may delay progress.

2.     Effectively Manage Subject Matter Experts

When working with a health plan’s internal subject matter experts (SMEs), marketing communications directors should clearly express their needs and anticipate what would be helpful for SMEs to know in advance. For example, educating SMEs on potential compliance issues that may arise while they are preparing content for the documents will help increase the likelihood that they provide usable content the first time around. Giving SMEs explicit deadlines when you request information will also ensure timelines are maintained.

3.   Keep Notes to Document the Good, Bad and Ugly

Inevitably, you will have moments during the AEP materials creation process when you have ideas for how to do things differently next year. Even though it may be difficult, try to keep notes about what’s working and what’s not working that you can reference later, with the ultimate goal being to make your life easier the next time around. After the AEP season concludes, review your notes, identify your weak spots, and consider what tools and resources – such as CodySoft – may be worthwhile to improve the AEP materials creation process for 2016.