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The 7 InsurTech Trends That Matter for 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered structural changes that have forced insurance players to become more competitive than ever. The pandemic has proved to be a catalyst, nudging insurers to prioritize their focus on improving customer centricity, market agility, and business resilience.

As per a report by Accenture, almost 86% of insurers believe that they must innovate at an increasingly rapid pace to retain a competitive edge.

‘Insurtech’, short for ‘insurance technology’, is a term being widely used these days to talk about the new technologies bringing innovation in the insurance industry. The digital disruption caused by technology is transforming the way we protect ourselves financially.

In this article, let’s explore the top insurtech trends for 2021 that will pave the way for the future of insurance. 

  1. Data-backed personalization

Insurance companies are increasingly drifting towards collecting data to understand customer preferences better. Using data collected from IoT devices and smartphones, insurance companies are trying to deliver customized advice, the right products, and tailored pricing. 

Personalization enables exceptional experiences for customers while offering them products and services tailored to their specific needs. The idea is thus to put customers at the core of their operations.

Some examples of data-backed personalization include the following –

  • Reaching out to customers at the right time. This involves pitching to customers when they are thinking of buying insurance like while making high-value purchases, during financial planning, or during important life events.
  • Reaching out to customers through the right channel. This involves reaching out to customers through appropriate platforms like a website or mobile app.
  • Delivering the right products to specific individuals. This involves delivering products to customers based on their specific needs like reaching out with auto insurance to a customer who travels often.

Take the example of the financial services company United Services Automobile Association. The organization collects data from various social media platforms and uses advanced analytics to personalize its engagement with customers. The company advises customers when they are buying automotive insurance or are looking to purchase a vehicle. The company also provides its customers tailored mobile tools to help them manage and plan their finances.

  1. Usage-based policies

One of the biggest trends in the insurance industry is the growth of usage-based policies. In the coming year, we are going to hear a lot more about the ever-growing popularity of short and very-short term insurance that needs to be activated quickly.

We are going to see the rise of dedicated apps that allow easily activating policies based on usage needs. For instance, one would be able to take insurance for a sports event or a travel plan.

  1. Robotic and cognitive automation (R&CA)

Both robotic process automation (RPA) and cognitive automation (CA) represent two ends of the intelligent automation spectrum. At one end of the spectrum, there is RPA that uses easily programmable software bots to perform basic tasks. At the other end, we have cognitive automation that is capable of mimicking human thought and action. 

While RPA is the first step in the automation journey for any industry, cognitive automation is expected to help the industry adopt a more customer-centric approach by leveraging different algorithms and technologies (like NLP, text analytics, data mining, machine learning, etc.) to bring intelligence to information-intensive processes. R&CA, therefore, encompasses a potent mix of automated skills, primarily RPA and CA.

In the insurance industry, there are vast opportunities for R&CA to ease many processes. Some of its use cases in the insurance industry include –

  • Claims processing – R&CA can help insurance companies gather data from various sources and use it in centralized documents to quickly process claims. Automated claims processing can reduce manual work by almost 80% and significantly improve accuracy.
  • Policy management operations – R&CA can help automate insurance policy issuance, thus reducing the amount of time and manual work required for it. It can also help in making policy updates by using machine learning to extract inbound changes from policy holders from emails, voice transcripts, faxes, or other sources.
  • Data entry – It can be used for replacing the manual data entry jobs, hence saving a significant chunk of time. There are still many instances where data like quotations, insurance claims, etc. is entered manually into the system.
  • Regulatory compliance – R&CA can be key in helping companies improve regulatory compliance by eliminating the need for human personnel to go through many manual operations that can be prone to errors. It helps reduce the risks of compliance breach and ensures the accuracy of data. Some examples of manual work that R&CA can automate include name screening, compliance checking, client research, customer data validation, and regulatory reports generation, etc.
  • Underwriting – It involves gathering and analyzing information from multiple sources to determine and avoid risks associated with a policy like health, finance, duplicate policies, credit worthiness, etc. R&CA can automate the entire process and significantly speed up functions like data collection, loss assessment, and data pre-population, etc.
  1. Data-driven insurance

Although insurance has always been driven by data, new technology means that insurers are likely to benefit from big data. Using valuable data insights companies can customize insurance policies, minimize risks, and improve the accuracy of their calculations.

Here are a few use cases of how insurance companies use big data – 

  • Shaping policyholder behavior – IoT devices that monitor household risk help insurers shape the behavior of policyholders.
  • Gaining insights on customer healthcare – Medical insurance companies are drawing insights from big data to improve recommendations in terms of immediate and preventive care.
  • Pricing – Companies are using big data to accurately price each policyholder by comparing user behavior with a larger pool of data.
  1. Gamification

Gamification is turning out to be a very interesting and promising strategy that may get a lot more popular in 2021. It involves improving the digital customer experience by applying typical dynamics of gaming like obtaining prizes, bonuses, clearing levels, etc.

Gamification has shown promise in increasing engagement and building customer loyalty. For example, an Italian insurance company was able to observe a 57% increase in customers (joining the loyalty program) due to a digital game created by the company.

  1. Smart contracts

Smart contracts are lines of code that are stored on a blockchain. These are types of contracts that are capable of executing or enforcing themselves when certain predetermined conditions are met.

The market for smart contracts is expected to reach a valuation of $300 million by the end of 2023.

The insurance sector can benefit from smart contracts because these can emulate traditional legal documents while offering improved security and transparency. Moreover, these contracts are automated, so companies do not need to spend time processing paperwork or correcting errors in written documents.

  1. Other key trends

Some other key trends that may be relevant in 2021 include – 

  • Extended reality – Although it’s still in its early days, extended reality can benefit the insurance industry by making data gathering much safer, simpler, and faster by allowing risk assessment using 3D imaging.
  • Cybersecurity – Since insurance companies are migrating towards digital channels, they also become prone to cyberattacks. That is why cybersecurity will remain a trend in 2021 as well.
  • Cloud computing – The year 2021 could witness cloud computing become more essential than ever before. 
  • Self-service – It allows customers to have an alternative path to traditional agents as per their need and convenience, and thus looks to pick up pace in 2021.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards digital in the insurance industry. As for the trends for 2021, there seems to be a general inclination towards personalization, data mining, and automation in the industry.

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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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