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Is AI Disruption on the way for Kenya’s Insurance Space?

The earliest known reason for introducing insurance protection in Kenya, came during the time of the Colonial British — when they insured their farms and crops against loss, damage etc. Today, Kenya has 70% of the East African Insurance market (among Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania & Rwanda). Still, African Insurance is relatively nascent in terms of size. Only 6 major markets dominate the landscape in a serious way — Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, South Africa, Nigeria & Kenya. Infact, the number of insurtech startups in the continent altogether is a paltry 50 something. 

The looming political climate coupled with a slowly recovering economy and some fierce competitive tactics used by traditional incumbents places the industry far from ideal in terms of marketplace conditions, including the slowdown in uptake of insurance products by an income-sensitive population.

Yet, Kenya offers a sense of growing appeal for young insurtechs in this region. The market remains largely undisrupted, since insurance penetration is only about 3% (insurance penetration for the African continent is only at 0.3%), attracting large international insurers like Allianz and Swiss Re who have recently entered the market. Kenya, like other countries in the region, has enormous potential similar to South-East Asian economies that also remain largely undisrupted with lower penetration rates.

The positive sentiment surrounding Kenya’s potential for deep tech disruption is not surprising — According to the 2019 Government AI Readiness Index published by the  IDRC and Oxford Insights — Kenya is the most AI ready country in Africa.

Buying Behavior

Insurtech startups are exploring avenues using AI that large, traditional players have less incentive to exploit, such as offering ultra-customized policies, social insurance, and using behavior data from devices to dynamically price premiums.

The Millennial experience is entirely technology driven, while their attitudes and perceptions as consumers will shape the future of how insurance as a service continues to remain relevant.


According to a Kenya Insurance Industry Report, 65% of millennials compare prices across different websites before making a purchase, 68% only buy a product through referrals from friends and social media. Interestingly, 84% of them are opposed to traditional advertising. 

For insurers, loyalty comes at a price — often dictated by the pain point the product/service can eliminate for impatient classes of customers. Analysing buying or browsing behavior can lead to an immense amount of ethically siphoned data. Using ML models and regression algorithms, insurers can create a unified view of their prospect, and realize a multi-targeted approach to create opportunities for upselling or cross-selling.


The report also highlights the importance of making sense of social media behavior — since 41% of millennials use social networking sites to pass on recommendations of products and services to friends and family.

Unlocking market potential requires targeting the uninsured growing middle class in creative ways. In addition to better pricing models, insurtech startups are testing the waters on a host of potential game-changers, such as using deep learning trained artificial intelligence (AI) to handle the tasks of brokers and finding the right mix of policies to complete an individual’s coverage.

Insurtechs are using AI to solve for Kenya’s distribution challenges, by looking at vital consumer needs that have previously been unmet or glossed over. At the same time, there is scope for improving the average consumer’s awareness of artificial intelligence technology, and how they can take advantage of it to solve priority-first issues related to convenience, cost and range of choice.
Nairobi-based Jubilee Insurance, the largest insurer in East Africa is making the most of AI tools like chatbots and automated messaging platforms for streamlining simple customer feedback & support operations. They have also launched forward-thinking products like “Recover in Style” which provides hair and make-up services to Jubilee patients who are hospitalized — services that go beyond the financial needs and into the realm of delivering superior customer experiences.

These efforts highlight a trend pointing towards the growing interest in the use of apps to pull policies into one platform for management and monitoring, creating on-demand insurance for micro-events like borrowing a friend’s car, and the adoption of the peer-to-peer models to create customized coverages. Bluewave, for example, is an insurtech startup offering low-cost insurance products, as low as US$4 a week, aimed at low-resource, low-income users in last-mile environments.

The expanding middle class and growth in mobile phone penetrations will be critical to widening distribution and getting more people to buy micro-insurance sized products for the first time. Badalaa is an on-demand insurtech startup focussed on bringing insurance at the point of transaction where the user needs it. Turaco, a recently funded insurtech, with premiums for as little as US$2 — leverages mobile financial services to provide hospital cashback to customers who have sought treatment at any nationally-accredited hospital in the regions where they operate. These innovations further the consumer’s awareness of AI-enabled insurance coverage and protection in general, in an otherwise underpenetrated marketplace.


Bismart is another example — an insurtech aggregator that allows customers to not only buy the best-in-class insurance products but also make claims directly from their portal as well. 

The biggest learnings for young insurtechs in this space from more mature markets, are about getting the basics right – having a single view of the customer, being able to launch rates and change pricing in real-time, offering customers a multichannel experience without requiring them to fill in the same information over and over again, and settling claims quickly without the need for multiple touchpoints.

Demand-driven models, built on sufficiently large data-sets will be instrumental in driving individual customisation at mass-scale for the sector at large.

webinar: AI for data-driven Insurers

Join our Webinar — AI for Data-driven Insurers: Challenges, Opportunities & the Way Forward hosted by our CEO, Parag Sharma as he addresses Insurance business leaders and decision-makers on April 14, 2020.

We help young insurtechs, build and scale AI-driven products and solutions for last-mile environments. Reach out to us on hello@mantralabsglobal.com, to learn more.

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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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