Advances in technology across retail, hospitality and finance, among others, have caused consumers to become more demanding. The exact same thing came to apply in health care insurance, where clients expect a digital, convenient, and personalized experience from their insurers or health maintenance organizations (HMOs).

According to the World Insurance Report 2019 published on May 14 by Capgemini, one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services; and Efma, a global nonprofit organization, insurers must respond to emerging threats and changing customer expectations by embracing new technology and partnerships.

“Emerging risk trends and rising customer expectations are dramatically changing the landscape for insurance, and providers must be agile in how they respond,” Anirban Bose, chief executive officer of Financial Services at Capgemini and member of the group executive board, was quoted as saying in a statement.

“Those that can evolve their products through technology, collaborate with innovators, and think of themselves as partners and preventers to their customers, stand to benefit the most,” Mr. Bose noted.

To provide a seamless and simplified customer experience, insurers and HMOs have already integrated digital innovations in their operations. Some of these include chatbots and voice assistants, mobile apps, IoT (Internet of things) devices, analytics, and telemedicine.

A report by Capgemini titled “Top 10 Technology Trends in Health Insurance: 2019” said that chatbots and voice assistants are being leveraged by industry players to provide meaningful customer engagement; help clients better understand their health benefits; and provide personalized sales conversations with them. Moreover, these tools can also act as a continuous care companion for older patients, reminding them about taking medications and doing other tasks.

The report, however, noted that firms would have to carefully navigate the hurdles of misinterpretation risks and privacy concerns that voice assistants pose.

Mobile app has also become a good channel to increase engagement and capture customers’ mindshare by being present in their mobile devices.

“According to a report by Research 2 Guidance, 325,000 health apps were available in 2017 with 78,000 apps added to major app stores in 2016,” the Capgemini report said.

Meanwhile, with the increasing demand for personalized offerings from customers, insurers are moving toward a preventive model of care, which involves real-time monitoring of user’s parameters for timely care interventions and encouraging healthier lifestyles through wellness initiatives. In this way, health incidents are prevented in advance rather than being addressed only after they occur.

The same report explained that industry players are now using wearables to constantly monitor the health parameters of their members which greatly help in timely intervention in case of anomalies. To encourage healthy lifestyle behavior, they also offer proactive wellness initiatives that involve a reward for displaying healthy behaviors. Moreover, they are developing more community-based care programs and offering solutions for aging and chronic populations. 

Analytics is also increasing in importance when it comes to providing customers with personalized care. Firms, in particular, can leverage analytics to make predictions about members’ susceptibility to ailments.

Analytics enables insurers to get insights into members’ future health trajectories through predictive analysis of the profitability a customer may contact an illness. It can also be used for deciding the best course of action in terms of identification of most effective treatments and drugs resulting in cost-efficient treatments. Moreover, behavioral analytics enables firms to study customer preferences and improve adherence and personalize care thereafter.

Another innovation that is gaining prominence and transforming the nature of provider-payer-client interactions is telemedicine. It provides users convenient access to physicians from anywhere through video consultations on their mobile phones and tablets.

“Diagnosis performed remotely can result in convenience and cost benefits to all the members in the health care ecosystem by reducing in-patient visits and enabling patients to avoid travel and other costs associated with a trip to the doctor’s office,” the Capgemini report said.

Telemedicine continues to grow in popularity, with the global telemedicine industry predicted to be valued over $40 billion in 2021.

“More and more health insurers are moving to customer-centric business models by leveraging technologies such as voice assistants, wearables, telemedicine, etc. The availability of a wealth of customer data and improved analytical capabilities will enable insurers to become customers’ health partners by providing seamless guided-use experiences, proactive wellness initiatives, and preventive and personalized care,” the Top 10 Technology Trends in Health Insurance: 2019 report concluded. — Mark Louis F. Ferrolino