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InsurTalks Podcast with Andrew Warburton: Delivering value-added experiences in the New Normal

5 minutes, 26 seconds read

The outbreak of pandemic Covid-19 has disturbed the political, social, economic, and financial structures of the whole world. The analysis by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting global supply chains and international trade.

To understand the impact of this crisis on the Insurance and InsurTech industries, we interviewed Mr. Andrew Warburton, Sales Director, Winsure Financial to get a sense of the current situation and understand “the new normal in Insurance”. 

Mr. Andrew Warburton is a Sales Director for Winsure Financial in London, a company that specializes in providing innovative investment vehicles that can be distributed digitally to clients or through professional advisors. He is also an advisor for Insurtech Hub in Istanbul. With over 30 years of experience in the global Insurance/Banking industry he believes that Insurtech and fintech are the only way forward to be relevant in the new digital age. Andrew has an international Sales and Marketing background working in Senior Executive positions with large multinationals in 6 countries.

Connect with Mr. Warburton – LinkedIn

The excerpt from the interview with Mr. Andrew Warburton:

The Impact of COVID-19 in the Insurance Industry

Almost every business has been affected by COVID-19 severely. What are the direct and indirect implications on Insurance?

Indeed the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted the market. In Turkey as well, there’s a drastic reduction in new businesses. There are 3 major areas of impact due to this crisis in Insurance-

Claims– There’s been a spike in claims especially in Travel, Health, and Life Insurance lines. Death rates in western Europe and the USA might have been up by 50% on a monthly figure. The impact may not be huge as more elderly people are parting away and they don’t have the same needs as that of younger families. However, Travel Insurance has been deeply affected due to lockdowns and people avoiding travel in general as a precautionary measure. 

Customer Engagement Another area where the Insurance sector is facing a problem is how to reach customers? Selling agents are no longer welcome knocking on the door due to the lockdowns. It is very difficult for banks and insurance companies to reach their customers in the normal fashion.

Economic Slowdown– Many people are drawing negligible salaries or in some cases no salaries at all. But they still have to pay insurance premiums which are an additional burden on them. 

Insurance is a kind of business where sale is prompted in some way. It may not be the case for some Insurance lines such as car insurance which is bought online in many countries. Without that prompt, probably people won’t buy insurance. Moreover, times like these where there is a cash crunch, insurance might be the last thing in people’s minds. 

Changing Customer Preferences

In a post-pandemic World, will insurance ever be bought offline? Or have we crossed the threshold for now buying policies purely online?

It’s quite a mixed bag of what we see around the world where some countries are quite advanced in digital sales. On the other hand, some countries still prefer manual processes. In this first wave of the pandemic, developing countries have not been impacted compared to the sort of lockdown. We have seen platforms like Alibaba, Amazon, and food delivery apps where people are spending more time on it and ordering food online. Insurance too will see a similar trend towards more online sales.

Customer Expectations from Insurance

Consumers, now more than ever are seeking value-added experiences with the products & services they buy. How will these expectations amidst this Pandemic backdrop impact new product innovation within insurance? 

Many insurance companies have a lot of data about their customers such as where they live, their buying habits, etc. For example, if they have a car how many miles do they do every day, where do they go, where’s the car parked or when do they go to the airport, etc. This data has not been used in the past but it enables us to determine premium based on which part of the district they live. There’s a lot of data available, but companies are not able to extract and use it to their benefit. Companies want to invest in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to understand customer behavior and give a personalized experience. That is happening currently in health insurance and car insurance. Certainly, Insurers will look forward to investing in these technologies in the coming months.

Impact of COVID-19 in AI Adoption

Many Insurance regulatory bodies are introducing sandboxes for Insurtech startups to experiment with AI and new cost optimization technologies. How does this pandemic impact the Insurance industry in terms of AI adoption? Will AI remain a priority?

Certainly AI will still be a priority. Everybody believes that AI will have the most impact on the Insurance industry. Nobody could have predicted this pandemic coming. One cannot plan for situations like these. But AI will help us cope with the pandemic better. Coming to the sandboxes, it has made it much easier for the Insurtechs to connect with Insurance companies.

Risk Mitigation Strategies in Insurance

What are the strategies to mitigate risks in insurance?

Insurers are investing in AI-driven products which require digital platforms to reach to the customers. Digital channels such as chatbots will play a key role in getting potential clients, create leads, upsell or cross-sell, etc. Many Insurers in developed countries have not invested much in digitalization. Digitalization will be a key mitigation strategy.

The New Normal in Insurance

What will be the new normal/upcoming Insurtech trends across the globe?

There are three areas in technology that are popular- Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Blockchain. The world probably is not yet ready for blockchain but AI and IoT combined have a big impact. It’s a common misunderstanding that if AI is plugged into data, it’ll create magic tricks. But it doesn’t. Digitalization is the step one and creating data is step two. What you do next to make a difference is the key which is AI. AI can be used to detect fraud and calculate premiums. IoT can help connect with clients at home and blockchain will have a huge potential in the Insurance sector.

AI is going to be essential for Insurers to gain that competitive edge and adat to the new normal in the post-pandemic world. Check out FlowMagic— an AI-driven platform for Insurer workflows and Hitee — an Insurance specific chatbot for driving customer engagement. For your specific requirements, please feel free to write to us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com. 

Podcasts in this series:


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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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