Technology to Bridge the Gap between Health Insurance Want & Need

Antony Jacob, CEO, Apollo Munich Health InsuranceHealth insurance industry is in the midst of an unprecedented revolution, led by technology and pertaining to two significant shifts: democratizing data and empowering consumers. With the evolving industry, there are certain emerging trends being observed in order to tap the consumer behaviour which are as follows:

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and use of automation
The sources to tap customer data is increasing at a faster pace and the customer insights through the data can be generated by using advanced analytics and machine learning techniques. Health insurance companies are now relying upon machine learning to generate insights from the near real-time data from wearable devices. AI offers not only the opportunity to derive insight at greater speed and with greater accuracy but also to derive new insight too. And the possibilities for insurance stretch across the value chain, from the back office to the front.

Amplifying the insurance distribution system
Online research platforms have channelized the way insurance distribution system works. The online comparison tools empowering business communities and customers to self-insure and choose the superior service. The new direct distribution channels and online comparison platform for direct small insurances are likely to be more effective in coming times.

Increasing use of mobile and web
With the increasing need to enhance customer experience and improve customer acquisition and retention, the healthcare industry is aggressively leveraging the digital medium to enhance risk management capabilities and provide premium services.

Innovation in product offerings
One of the key developments in recent years was innovation in product offerings. From technology adoption to enhancement of customer experience and to product innovation with an emphasis on wellness services, insurers are increasingly developing new products to cater to the
unique demands of the customers. One such entrant in the healthcare industry are niche healthcare schemes that customers opt for to cover a specific disease.

Hand held device led risk management
Handheld device in health insurance is an enduring trend. It also offers insurers an opportunity to add value added services by giving then the capability to engage customers on a more frequent basis. Within insurance, there are various areas of potential use for handheld and wearable devices including marketing, underwriting, risk management, new product development, workers' compensation and personal auto injury claims management.

Handheld devices offers insurers with an opportunity to add value-added services by giving then the capability to engage customers on a more frequent basis

Cloud-based infrastructure
There will be a considerable development in the use of technology that can be managed by means of on-premise and hybrid cloud infrastructure to guarantee flexibility to clients and customers. Moreover, it will help the insurance sector to adhere to the-ever-changing government policies within the health insurance sector.

Cyber security to become a key issue
While technology-adoption is on the rise in healthcare and insurance industries, cyber security and the safe management of data become a crucial issue that developers will have to deal with. Limited interoperability between the increasing number of medical and health-related devices that are connected to the tech infrastructure may also contribute to the growing risk of hacking and other cyber security threats. Health insurers will focus more on in addressing problems and protect individuals and businesses from cyber threats such as theft, phishing, spams, extortion, hacking, data destruction, and much more. We expect more stringent rules from regulator IRDAIin order to secure stricter data confidentiality.

Cashless economy to help insurance
As the government is promoting a "cashless" economy, it is important that we accelerate the pace towards a non-physical mode of transaction in insurance. For insurance, a cashless environment works very well as these give a seamless experience for the customer and helps the insurer crunch the time lag. Coming days will see insurers more and more adapting to the customer needs, and faster the insurance adoption.

Challenges ahead
While the above trends play out, there will be challenges the industry must confront. The structural and technological changes remain at risk as the industry embrace emerging technologies. There is concern over industry's ability to address issues like, digitization, competition, consolidation and cost reduction. The industry's ability to attract and retain human talent is also a concern for many in the rapidly changing technology. Not withstanding the challenges and occasional headwinds, the above trends will stimulate further growth and expansion of the health insurance industry in coming years. While customers will reap the benefits from the tech trends, insurers will enjoy gainful returns from their investments.