How The Health Insurance Industry Is Evolving Thanks To Technology 

The health insurance industry is evolving as technology possibilities continue to grow and expand. Here's how technology is changing things

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September 24, 2019
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Technology has been at the forefront of the transformation of many industries, and more recently, the healthcare and insurance industry. We have seen the introduction of virtual healthcare in Australia, robotic-assisted surgeries, and even the introduction of tech-driven and boosted activewear in the fitness industry. But what has the technological explosion in healthcare meant for Australia’s health insurance industry? Accenture’s 2018 Consumer Survey On Digital Health showed that Australian consumers are ready to embrace the digital age in healthcare and with it, Australian insurers are utilising new innovations to revamp their customer service and operations.

Changes to Private Insurance Fuelled By Their Digital Service Cover

While only 12 percent of Australians surveyed reporting they have received virtual healthcare, an overwhelming amount of them are actively seeking the use virtual interaction and expanded coverage by their employers. This is something private insurers have been quicker to notice, and as a result, consumers are making the switch to private. One particular age group that is seeking coverage of virtual healthcare by private insurers? The 18-29 age group, also known as the ‘technologically in touch age group’ of the market. Now, not only are policy costs the driving factor in the decision to switch for consumers, but so are insurers’ digital and tech offerings.

Insurers Utilising Technology To Minimise Emotional Attachment During Customer Service Points

Health insurers in Australia such as BUPA are turning to the use of technology to simplify the customer experience process for their consumers. For BUPA, this is a key market since the Australian market accounts for 45 percent of its annual revenue. According to a 2018 report by ItNews, the company’s growth and performance director David Hirsch said they have recognised the amount of emotions and stress that can be present during the health insurance process, particularly during the initial selection of health insurance and the claims process.

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They also realised that with health insurance, customer situations tend to vary greatly from aging patients in care homes to those dealing with a potentially life-changing medical diagnosis. With the help of Adobe technologies, they are utilising analytics and conversion rate optimisation to make any customer interaction with BUPA as easy and straightforward for the customer as possible. Fast forward to 2019, and the company has invested heavily, with 90 percent of its funding going towards technology transformation programs. It has also been increasing its collaborative partnerships with tech giants such as Genesys, who recently transformed BUPA’s contact centers with the implementation of artificial intelligence.

Wearable Health Tech Data Being Used In Premium Price Setting

While less than 10 percent of Australian consumers are wearing wearable technology such as fitness trackers, that number is quickly rising as Australians become more health-conscious and committed to healthy living. For the third quarter in 2018, global shipments of wearables rose 21.7 percent and insurers are capitalising on the peak in interest.

Consumers that are willing to share their user data can benefit from various discounts on their annual health insurance premiums, or in some cases, cashback bonuses based on their annual premiums. Insurers such as AIA currently offer savings of between 25-35 percent on the RRP of fitness trackers to their members in addition to Vitality points while the premium discounts offer up to 7.5 percent on the first-year life or trauma insurance premium. In addition, insurers are using submitted data to predict renewal premiums and fees for current customers or offer interactive health insurance policies covering customers and their family members.

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Conclusion

Australia’s healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing industries. With its rapid expansion, health insurers are having to evolve their services. With the technological progression being made in the healthcare industry, complementing industries are recognising the need to adapt their offerings to keep up with the advancing needs of their consumers. Even though innovation is playing a large part in the way we look at healthcare, it is playing a just as essential role in the access to these health services and ultimately the cost we are paying for it.