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4 Key Takeaways from India Insurance Summit & Awards 2020

The India Insurance Summit & Awards 2020, themed around technology and innovations in Insurance concluded on March 13th in Mumbai. The event witnessed enthusiastic participation from corporates like Future Generali India Life Insurance, ICICI Lombard, Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance, Pramerica Life and many more. The stalwarts from the Insurance industry addressed the tech-powered revolution that is soon to happen with Digital 2.0. Here are 4 key takeaways from IISA that highlight the future of Insurance and InsurTech.

1. Digital 2.0 is on rise

Accenture’s research report on the post-digital era reveals that 94% of businesses have accelerated their digital transformation over the past three years. While the era of Digital 1.0 was focused on the mobile, simplified design and a wider range of applications, Digital 2.0 extends the ecosystem into the next-gen interface which relies on anywhere, anytime and any platform mindset.

The traditional insurance distribution channels have already received a digital facelift; with Digital 2.0, they tend to become more consumer-focused and experience-driven. Insurers are empowering distributors to deliver next-gen experiences to customers and deliver products & services for Micro-Moments

[Related: How technology is transforming Insurance distribution channels]

2. Millennials are characterized by Micro-Moments

Micro-Moment is an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need — to know, go, do, or buy” (Google).

An average consumer experiences hundreds of micro-moments throughout the day. More than 91% of smartphone users use mobile phones for inspiration in the middle of a task. People are becoming more research-obsessed and almost every decision made online is informed. For instance, 51% of digital consumers have purchased from a company other than their intended brand, solely based on the information they find online. Moreover, 62% of people are more likely to take an action (like purchase decision) right away even in the middle of some other task.

Earlier, customers used to view the lowest priced product as their best value for money option. Now, the customer’s ability to research is leading to higher-priced products being bought because of the greater perceived value of the product.

As a notion, Insurance is not bought; it’s sold. Thus, micro-moments present immense opportunities to engage with the customer during their buying journey. By leveraging the right points of interaction, Insurers can propose relevant and personalized insights to win customers.

[Related: Millennials and Insurance beyond convenience]

3. Online is best for small-ticket insurance 

Small-ticket insurance (or bite-size cover) focuses on the specific needs of consumers. These are characterized by low premium, low cover and hence lower profit margins. Thus, offline distribution, which involves agents and brokers isn’t feasible. Online channels with emerging API-based distribution and marketplaces are best for distributing small-ticket insurance products. In India, companies like Toffee Insurance, MobiKwik and Digit Insurance provide bite-size insurance. 

Within life insurance, term plans are sold the most online. Insurers have observed that online customers buy more and stay longer with the brand as compared to offline customers. In general, online products are more compelling. The key is — small market, great margins and greater profitability.

Moreover, small-ticket insurance delivers two-fold benefits. Consumers, who haven’t bought an insurance product before, need not pay lengthy premiums (also beneficial to Insurers for customer acquisition); while Insurers find it easier to predict customer behaviour online, allowing them to underwrite risks more accurately.

4. Technology will enhance post-sale moments of truth

Insurers have already started to utilize technologies like NLP to build self-service policy renewal/inquiry portals, AI for zero-touch integrated claims, to name some. The behaviour of the same customer on different channels (like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc.) is unique. Carriers have to map and understand these behaviours to create better-individualized journeys. Distributor journeys also play a crucial role in analysing post-sale moments of truth. Insights from distributor journey can help Insurers modify/add products into the chain based on buyers’ experiences.

Technology is also helping Insurers participate in a connected information ecosystem. Data from geo-tagging of accidents can be shared with law enforcement to understand areas prone to accidents, underlying causes and even catching criminals through facial recognition technology. For instance, Staqu Technologies, a Gurugram-based AI startup, is providing facial recognition systems to many state government police departments.

Wrapping up

Although 94% of urban and 24% of the Indian rural populace use the internet, Insurers still rely heavily on offline third-party insurance sold by agents (e.g. third party motor insurance for the rural market).

Even though online is cheaper than offline, customers prefer offline as it has more accountability. What drives offline to online is understanding that every customer is unique with unique needs and unique propositions. The truth of the matter is — when things fail, online becomes harder for customer acquisition. AI and Automation has allowed for significant cost reduction and process efficiency gains across the value chain for carriers. However, AI should be used strategically to augment processes that cannot be entirely automated so as to not fully eliminate the human in the loop, in order to better assist customers (eg: speaking to an actual person for resolving complex issues.)

Mantra Labs was a proud customer experience partner at India Insurance Summit & Awards 2020. During the event, Mantra unveiled the Internet of Intelligent Experiences (IOIX) illustrating the extremes to which technology can create sensory disruption in customer experiences!

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Virtual health: Delivering care through technology

8 minutes, 52 seconds read

Virtual Care, Telehealth, Telemedicine, etc. are terms used very synonymously. Indeed they are interrelated, however, Virtual Care is a broader term in which healthcare providers use digital tools to communicate and deliver care to their patients. Telehealth and Telemedicine are a part of Virtual Care where doctors deliver care to their patients, remotely via phone, video, or instant messaging. Virtual health includes care delivery beyond video consultation where hospitals provide services using technology such as wearables for remote monitoring, instruments for post-op care and second opinions, e-pharma services, and medical information, etc. 

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic gave an impetus to Virtual Care, but even in the Pre-COVID time, the Healthcare sector was slowly gearing up for this next wave in care delivery. What COVID-19 did was, help patients get acclimatized to the digital health tools and services. 

What does Virtual Health help with?

The pandemic has brought the burning issues of the healthcare sector to center stage. Patient experience and access to healthcare services are key differentiators for people while choosing a healthcare provider. Let’s take a look at some of these issues addressed by technology in the healthcare sector-

The increasing number of patients

Apart from the pandemic, there’s already been a rise in the number of patients due to drastic changes in lifestyle and food habits, an increase in pollution levels, increase in new types of viruses, etc. This has caused undue stress on healthcare institutions and workers and has led to the deterioration of the quality of patient care. Virtual Health technology such as mHealth apps, EHR (Electronic Health Record), video conferencing, etc. has helped reduce the pressure on hospitals.

Difficulty in traveling for old patients

The pace of life is increasing at a rapid rate. It is getting insanely difficult for the elder population to navigate through the traffic and commute long distances for a check-up. Many times, they have to depend on their family members to take them to hospitals. Moreover, they are at risk of exposure to viruses in hospitals and clinics. Now that they have had the experience of virtual consultations, they prefer care delivery at home rather than going to hospitals.

Chronic Diseases treatment

The number of people above the age of 45 face health issues. Some patients are suffering from chronic diseases regardless of age. Regular monitoring of their vitals is very important. Moreover people now prefer Virtual healthcare services which are easily accessible and save a lot of time, effort, and money. Now that people have found these services effective, they will opt for online consults rather than frequent in-person visits. 

Post-op Care

The duration of post-operative care is quite long and tedious. If given a choice, people will lean towards wearables which will help keep doctors posted on the status of the treatment. Many times, the cost of post-op care is more than the actual treatment and sometimes is not covered under insurance. Virtual care-delivery services will help reduce the financial burden of people going through these treatments.

Follow-ups/Second opinion  

Some health conditions need multiple follow-ups and second opinions to figure out the right approach to treat the issue. It is much easier for patients to do follow-up consults virtually rather than going through the tedious process of appointment booking, commuting, and waiting for their turn. It helps reduce the queue outside the doctor’s office as well. Some health issues need a second opinion, sometimes both by patients and doctors. Virtual Healthcare technologies make it possible for them to take second opinions from doctors all over the world. With electronic records and image sharing, doctors can diagnose the problem better.

What does Virtual Health include?

Virtual Health can be broadly divided into below applications-

mHealth Applications

mHealth applications have widespread use. From symptom checkers to appointment booking, from fitness trackers to uploading medical records, from video conferencing features to chatbot integrations, mHealth apps are on a rise mainly because of easy accessibility for the tech-savvy customers. According to a study by NCBI, among the 22 selected mHealth apps operating in India, Practo, mfine, DocsApp, 1mg, Netmeds, Lybrate, MediBuddy, and Medlife were found to be the eight most popular ones with over a million downloads and on average four-plus user rating out of five. All the above apps are mainly being used for online consults. This just goes about showing that people prefer having homecare services instead of stepping out. 

E-Triage Tools

The rising number of patients with different stages of COVID symptoms was a task to deal with. E-triage software here enables hospitals to triage patients into different sections when there’s an overload of patients at a particular time. Now, in the case of home care, e-triage tools help patients to access the gravity of their health condition and notify the healthcare provider accordingly. Such tools help reduce A&E waiting time and improve NHS performance. Many companies are building healthcare software integrating the E-triage module within EHR, telemedicine, clinical decision making, billing, etc. In India, Persistent Systems’ cutting edge platform has a Nurse Triage system that enables nurses to see the queue of patients and triage via phone calls. Once the calls are done, a triage report is generated and sent to care providers. Many leading doctors feel that AI in image triage will see a boost in near future.

Remote Patient Monitoring 

There are multiple benefits such as reduced post-op expenditure, time wastage, less exposure to other diseases, etc. The global remote patient monitoring devices market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 7.1% during the forecast period (2019–2027) according to Coherent Market Insights. Some of the top players in this space are Biotronik, Boston Scientific Corporation, CAS Medical Systems, CONTEC MEDICAL, Dragerwerk, GE Healthcare, Guangdong Biolight Meditech, Medtronic, Mindray Medical, Nihon Kohden, Philips Healthcare, Spacelabs Healthcare, Abbott. Companies such as GE Healthcare and Philips Healthcare have done a great job with building remote patient monitoring systems within the hospital premises as well as homecare for COVID patients. The main goal was to reduce the exposure of healthcare workers to at-risk patients. 

Synchronous and Asynchronous Telehealth

Synchronous telehealth, in other words, Telemedicine is where there is a live conversation between the patient and the doctor. Asynchronous telehealth involves the exchange of recorded data e.g. images, video, medical reports, pathology reports between patients and doctors, at times between doctors as well. Similar to mHealth space, companies like Practo, 1mg, Lybrate, Medlife, and Portea Medical in India are some of the top players in telehealth and telemedicine. Lybrate’s USP lies in CMS (Clinical Management System) which helps doctors with tedious tasks of managing patients and providing better care. Meanwhile, Portea Medical’s home consults and pharma delivery have more relevance with the audience as it combines technology with a touch of personalization. 

Digital Therapeutics

Digital Therapeutics delivers evidence-based therapies with the help of software which can be used both as a preventive measure as well as treatment application. The effectiveness of the medication and lifestyle changes on patients are monitored by leveraging technology. In India, major non-communicable diseases that account for 62% of the total mortality rate are CVD, diabetes, respiratory conditions, and cancer. Prominent global players in this space include Noom (US), Livongo Health (US), Omada Health (US), WellDoc (US), Pear Therapeutics (US), Proteus Digital Health (US), Propeller Health (US), Akili Interactive Labs (US), Better Therapeutics (US), etc. Omada Health is the pioneer in the DTx (Digital Therapeutics) that focused primarily on diabetes and pre-diabetes but now is branching out in the mental health space as well. In India, Altran (a part of Capgemini) is into building personalized DTx applications for clients. Whereas a start-up called Wellthy Therapeutics has ready solutions catering to multiple diseases.

Future of Virtual Health

Undoubtedly, there has been a massive increase in the adoption of Virtual Health technologies as people have gotten accustomed to the ease of certain services at home. In the coming future, mHealth apps, remote patient monitoring, and Digital therapeutics see a surge in demand from the customers. According to a study by Markets and Markets, “The global digital therapeutics market is projected to reach USD 6.9 billion by 2025 from USD 2.1 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 26.7% during the forecast period (2020–2025).” A study by Fortune Business Insights, “The global mHealth market size is projected to reach USD 293.29 billion by 2026, exhibiting a CAGR of 29.1% during the forecast period.” A Research and Markets report says, “The remote patient monitoring market is expected to reach US$31.326 billion by the end of 2023.” Apart from the above, development in digital infrastructure such as virtual health stations where doctors can provide consultations globally, mobile ICUs, MRIs, X-rays, ultrasound equipment, the establishment of rural virtual care units reaching the remote areas of the country are some of the trends which will gain momentum. The focus would always lie upon the personalization of the virtual care experience for patients driven by data exchange and interoperability. 

Indeed, there are certain challenges to the implementation of these technologies, lack of infrastructure, and digital literacy amongst elders and lower strata of society. Many healthcare institutions still have inhibitions while investing in digital technologies fearing rejection from the customers. It will be crucial for care providers to choose the right partner for implementing these technologies and create awareness amongst people to adopt them.  

In a Nutshell

The success of virtual care relies on how well the digital experience is designed for the patient. “By 2025, as many as 95 percent of all customer interactions will be through channels supported by artificial intelligence (AI) technology” – Microsoft. The use of algorithms and AI for personalizing these experiences will be the key. 

Find out more about unchartered territories in ‘Blue Ocean’ of Digital Health. Join our webinar hosted by Parag Sharma (CEO, Mantra Labs) as he shares his insights on untapped opportunities using digital self-care tools within behavioral healthcare & emotional wellness.

Save your spot! 

Further Readings:

  1. Reimagining Medical Diagnosis with Chatbots
  2. HealthTech 101: How are Healthcare Technologies Reinventing Patient Care
  3. What will be the state of the healthcare industry post pandemic?
  4. Healthcare Chatbots: Innovative, Efficient, and Low-cost Care
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