Not All Integrations are Created Equal

Every benefits platform on the market claims that it integrated with hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors. But it’s important to understand exactly what that means- because “integrations” has become a buzz word and it can often be misleading.

Definition: At its core, integrations allow one form of technology to work with another, in order to create a more seamless user experience.

By that definition, Castlight has over 1,000 different vendor integrations supported across our book of customers. However, those integrations vary depending on:


  • Do you have Castlight Care Guidance, Castlight Wellbeing, or Castlight Complete?

Type of vendor

  • Is this a health plan, a wellbeing vendor, or a clinical program?

Goal of the user experience

  • Is your goal to drive utilization by: raising awareness, informing users about a program, lowering the programs’ barrier to entry, or drive users to complete a set of specific actions?
  • Do you simply want to use data from a third party vendor to power a feature within Castlight (i.e. to show users their HSA balance in their Castlight app)?

There are three key components to integrations:

  1. Connection: Allows users to easily access a third-party vendor’s website or app
  2. Authentication: Allows users to access a third-party vendor’s website or app without having to create or enter a username or password each time
  3. Data Transfer: Allows the passing of user-level data back and forth between vendors for the purposes of personalization, incentive allocation, reporting, and more.

Let’s take a look at some different types of integrations, starting with the basics:

Link outs make it easy to find and access third-party solutions.
Link outs are fairly basic functionality where a link to a third-party solution is embedded into the Castlight platform that, when clicked, will take the user to that vendors website or app. Link outs do not offer any data or credential sharing, therefore the integration is lightweight.

    • Connection: Yes
    • Authentication: No
    • Data transfer: No

Link outs with SSO make it easy to find, access, and login to third-party solutions.
Add SSO to a link out and your integration just got a lot more powerful. SSO, or Single Sign On, allows a user to login to multiple sites with a single username and password to gain access to connected systems in a seamless way. You’ve probably used SSO integrations in the past if you’ve ever logged into a site “using Facebook.” Okta offers a similar service for enterprise use. Castlight sends data such as username and login information, and often additional data fields to be used in reporting, via SSO to the vendor for easy entry into that program.

    • Connection: Yes
    • Authentication: Yes
    • Data transfer: Yes (one way)

Data Exchanges make it easy to find, access, and login to third-party solutions and enables rich product functionality including personalization, incentives, and reporting.
Data Exchange integrations are the most powerful, allowing integrated solutions to pass data back and forth to enhance the user experience for each individual end user. Because these are more powerful, they’re also more complex. Here’s what you need to know:

Method of data transport is important and there are two main types:

  • Flat file: Flat file data transfer is a process where a third-party vendor pulls a single set of data into a file (typically a .CSV file), sends to securely via Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) over to Castlight, and then the data is uploaded into Castlight’s platform. This method is rather manual and require significant maintenance, but works well for data that doesn’t need frequent updates.
  • API: Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are a data transfer mechanics that allows a third-party vendor to send data in “real-time,” meaning, the moment it happens. The vendor identifies the data set that should be sent, and each time a user takes on of the identified actions, the API sends a message from the Vendor to Castlight that says “User X completed action Y.”

Direction of data flow is important too.

One way data exchange simply mean that user level data is flowing either from the vendor to Castlight or from Castlight to the vendor. An example would be a vendor can send Castlight data (either via flat file or via API) that lets us know that a user completed a specific action in their program for the purposes of providing them the appropriate incentive. Alternatively, Castlight could send the vendor data for login purposes, as in the SSO example above.

Two way data exchange allows BOTH of the above to happen with a given vendor.

  • Connection: Yes
  • Authentication: Yes
  • Data transfer: Yes (2-way)

The biggest take away here, is that the richer the integration, the more Castlight (or any platform for that matter) can do with it. Castlight builds 2-way, API Data Exchange integrations will all of our Ecosystem Partners. This ensures that data flows both out to our partners but also back into Castlight, powering key functionality in our app such as Castlight Genius, our personalization engine. It allows Castlight, and benefit leaders like you, to tailor the the experience for each member of your population with personalized program recommendations, smarter search, engaging incentives programs. APIs connections allow our users to complete actions across multiple applications seamlessly and allows you to access real-time, apples-to-apples reporting across all your programs.