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Contactless Solutions in Insurance

3 minutes, 53 seconds read

Last decade was benchmark for contactless technology, which was mainly confined to payments. In 2014, with the launch of ApplePay followed by Android Pay and Samsung Pay, digital wallets played an important role in raising the bar for digital payment experiences. Another remarkable breakthrough in the contactless payments can be attributed to NFC-only debit cards introduced in 2016 by Erste Group Bank AG.

Now (the 2020s), we’re about to witness another disruption in contactless digital experiences, which will cover many different business spheres including insurance. 

However, prolonged lockdowns and the need for social distancing amidst the COVID crisis has shifted consumer preference towards digital. Consumers are now ready to adopt digital technologies — appreciating the contactless approach by Insurers.

Today’s consumers expect personalization, convenience, and greater levels of customer service satisfaction regardless of insurers, assets, and geography. Soon, we may resume socializing, but there sure will be a change in the way we interact with our environment. 

This article highlights the emerging contactless solutions in Insurance.

Claims Inspection

Going by the traditional physical inspection way, even a simple motor claim may take 5-7 working days. For instance, after a customer has intimated the insurer about the accident, the Insurer would assign a surveyor to assess the extent of damage/loss and authenticate the incident. 

This process is not only time consuming, but also requires the surveyor to visit the location, assess the damage, and process documents. 

Self-service claims portals can help customers register, inspect, and settle their motor insurance claims in a comparatively shorter time. It also eliminates field-visits for the surveyor.

The technology that is creating an impact here is Machine Vision. It can analyze damaged parts and the severity of damage through the photographs submitted by the customers. 

Trillium Mutual Insurance, Bajaj Allianz are already using contactless claims solutions for their policyholders.

[Also read: How Machine Vision can Revolutionize Motor Insurance]

Policy Distribution

Agents have been a predominant channel for insurance distribution for decades. In 2019, the new-age tech-savvy customers posed a threat to traditional agent-based selling in Insurance. The current COVID crisis has confused businesses as to which channel to opt. The elder generation, who preferred face-to-face communication while buying a policy, planning investment, etc. are reluctant to meet people. 

In this situation, multilingual/vernacular chatbots can handle pre and post-sales queries; thus, eliminating the need for agents/RMs to meet clients and prospects physically. 

Chatbots equipped with language processing capability can be a great contactless solution for policy distribution. They can eliminate human interaction in areas such as First Notice of Loss (FNOL) and customer support.

“The new normal is when people learn how to do contactless selling. Covid-19 has brought a change in universal behavior..everybody realizes the need for social distancing, the need to go digital and this is where people are more amenable to being sold to digital. Insurers who accomplish contactless sales today are the ones who will be able to make a difference going forward.”

K V Dipu, President — Operations, Communities & Customer Experience, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance

[Also read: ‘Digital’ Insurance Broker: The case for a digital brokerage]

Another aspect of this case is equipping agents with technical knowledge and they can help clients/prospects on “how to” situations through video chats.

API Integration

In the API-based business model, apart from traditional distribution channels, 3rd party apps allow customers to buy/renew insurance policies. 

Digital wallets like PayTM and PhonePe (in India) have updated their interface to allow essential payments to the fore including insurance premiums. The API-based approach in Insurance is gaining momentum as it allows contactless payments and adds convenience for the user.

[Also read: Four New Consumer-centric Business Models in Insurance]

Contactless Solutions: Field Survey using Drones

Drones carry the ability to extract accurate field information, which can fuel real-time analytics using artificial intelligence and machine learning. MarketsandMarkets estimates the Indian drone software market to reach $12.33 billion by 2022. Drones can fulfill two strategic objectives for Insurers:

  1. Risk management: through efficient field data collection, analysis, and actionable insights 
  2. Operational costs management: through effective claims adjudication, claims processing, and customer experience.

The Future

Gradually, the world will move towards a contactless ecosystem. Most of the processes will be automated and wearables and mobile devices will dominate business-to-customer interactions. 

Automotive business, which totally relied on the dealership and offline sales has adapted itself to operate online amidst this crisis. Companies like BMW, Hyundai, Volvo, and Peugeot have already introduced contactless online sales globally.

The point is — people are giving a thought to buying an expensive asset without physically examining it. Digital channels are giving almost similar experiences as physical channels to both consumers and businesses.

In the Insurance landscape, people are open to buying policies online, and at the same time, Insurers are ready to rely on technology for claims investigation, underwriting, and fraud detection. 

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What will ‘Behavioural Changes’ Mean for India’s Digital Health Future

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, facing a threat unlike one never seen before. COVID-19 has been a reason for global concern since it has negatively impacted economies, shut down workplaces, and forced cities into lockdowns.

But history also tells us  that times of uncertainty also foster innovation. The pandemic has forced consumers and businesses to rethink how they behave both physically and digitally. As per McKinsey, COVID-19 has speeded up the adoption of digital technologies.

India, which was on the cusp of a ‘digital health’ revolution, has now been forced to embrace innovation and emerging trends. The healthcare sector holds great promise since new-age technologies like telemedicine, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), genomics, etc. are transforming healthcare services.

There have been unprecedented changes in consumer behaviour as well. People are now increasingly relying on using the internet to find clinical information or engage with healthcare professionals digitally. Moreover, online consultations, telemedicine, and e-pharmacies have seen a rise in popularity.

Companies will thus need to capitalize on the changing patterns of consumption and health-seeking behaviour.

This article focuses on how changing patient behaviour will affect India’s digital health future.

A growing Indian healthcare market

According to a report by Future Health Index, India is a leader in the adoption of digital health technology. As per India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the Indian healthcare market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22% to reach a valuation of USD 372 billion by 2022. This growth can be attributed to the following –

  • Growing health awareness
  • Aging population
  • Lifestyle-related diseases
  • Rising income levels
  • Growth of internet availability

The rise of digital health start-ups is also playing a role in the growth of the healthcare sector. Indian health tech startup landscape has now matured.

Over the last few years, telemedicine has emerged as a fast-growing sector in India. Prominent start-ups like Practo, mfine, and Lybrate have established themselves in the telehealth market. McKinsey estimates that India could save up to USD10 billion by 2025 by using telemedicine instead of in-person doctor appointments.

COVID-induced behavioural changes

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about changes to patient behaviour. The fear of leaving homes to get treatment has led to the growth of virtual care and telemedicine. 

As per a report by Accenture, almost 70% of the patients canceled or postponed their treatments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology, therefore, played a crucial role in helping patients continue their care. Healthcare providers were even able to improve the experience for patients by delivering them faster response time, personalized interactions, and the convenience of getting consultation from home.

The same report by Accenture highlights some key behavioural changes that are being observed in patients – 

  • Nearly half of the patients now get their treatment at their homes instead of visiting a clinic.
  • Almost 60% of patients want to continue using technology for communicating with healthcare providers.
  • About 41% of patients now use video conferencing to connect with their healthcare providers. Of these, for almost 70% of patients, it’s their first-time using video conferencing for healthcare.
  • Almost 44% of patients used new apps or devices during the pandemic to manage their health conditions.

All this highlights the need for healthcare providers to reimagine their patient engagement strategies in keeping with the changing patient behavior.

Future of digital health in India

New digital technologies and tools are making an impact across the healthcare sector. They hold great promise in improving the efficiency of healthcare services while delivering better patient care. Below are some of the technological developments that are expected to revolutionize the way we seek healthcare.

Telemedicine

About 68% of India’s population lives in rural areas where healthcare services are not usually up to the mark. This barrier can be overcome by telemedicine that offers an excellent way for patients to consult a doctor in a much shorter duration. Telemedicine can cut waiting times and allow patients to avoid traveling to a clinic or hospital. Some other benefits of telemedicine include –

  • Immediate access to specialist healthcare providers.
  • Cost-effectiveness.
  • Improved quality of care.
  • Convenience to the patients.
  • Improved patient engagement.

Internet of medical things (IoMT)

The rapid growth of IoMT devices is rapidly changing healthcare delivery by playing an important role in tracking and preventing chronic illnesses.

It not only helps eliminate the need for in-person medical visits but also helps reduce costs. Goldman Sachs estimates IoMT to save USD 300 billion annually for the healthcare industry. IoMT will benefit those patients the most who are unable to get access to quality healthcare due to remote location.

Big data in healthcare

There has been dramatic growth in the amount of medical and health data in the last few years. These massive datasets can be used to draw insights and opportunities for healthcare organizations. Analysis of healthcare data can help discover warning signs and create preventive plans.

The widespread adoption of IoT devices also makes it easier to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, etc. This can help in the early detection of diseases like hypertension, asthma, heart problems, etc.

Electronic medical records

Electronic medical records or EMRs help collect, digitalize patients’ information, and store it in a single place. EMRs store various types of medical data like medical history, prescriptions, drug allergies, etc. and allow doctors to make accurate disease prognosis in a much shorter time. Some other benefits of EMRs include – 

  • Effective medical decisions.
  • Easy data recovery.
  • Improved collaboration.
  • Portability.
  • Security of medical data.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has a big role to play in improving healthcare since growing digitization leads to the availability of a large amount of health data. AI has the potential to transform everyday health management in the following ways –

  • Improved accessibility of healthcare services (for example – the AI-based mobile app Ada is available across 140 countries and makes it possible for anyone to have access to medical guidance).
  • Improved efficiency.
  • Accurate disease diagnosis.
  • Improved insights to reveal early disease risks (for example – a popular app Verily can forecast noncontagious and hereditary genetic diseases).
  • Time and cost savings.

mHealth

Mobile health or mHealth refers to the monitoring and sharing of health data via mobile technology like health tracking apps or wearables. 

mHealth apps can prove to be beneficial in increasing patient engagement, providing health education, and offering remote consultations to patients. It can also use the data from wearable devices to improve the quality of care. Some other benefits of mHealth include – 

  • Faster access to physicians.
  • Improved medication adherence.
  • Remote patient monitoring.
  • Increased medication reconciliation accuracy.
  • Improved coordination between healthcare providers and patients.

Conclusion

It’s quite clear that COVID-19 has significantly impacted patient behaviour. There has been a growing preference for telehealth and mHealth apps. But all of this has also compelled healthcare organizations to put in more effort in adapting to these behavioural changes. Healthcare providers are opting to rely more on new technologies to continue delivering patient care. A more affordable standard of high-quality care is in the works for India’s digital health future.

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