All around us, a new generation of technology is changing our lives. Each year more of us choose online routes to book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions or view personal health records. Digital innovations have the potential to support and empower patients, helping people to self-care over a sustained period. Theresa Blissing, Founder of Accelerating insurance and the Asia InsurTech Podcast AIP) confirms that “customer engagement is incredibly important to meet the expectations of modern consumers, especially in healthcare where it is crucial in generating a positive customer experience.”

The U.K health system is stretched and focuses on treatment rather than prevention. In response to the increasing stresses, the NHS Long Term Plan commits that every patient will have the right to be offered digital-first primary care by 2023/24. However, current GP contract rules weren’t designed for digital-first services, and cause problems for existing practices, the NHS and insurers alike. We need to innovate.

In the private sector, healthcare providers and insurers continue to explore ways to empower their customers to become more proficient at managing their pain and absent the NHS constraints. This is a more fertile ground for innovation. Standardisation to NHS requirements continues to serve as a benchmark for private-sector technology, but the private sector has more freedom to develop early-stage technology which is key to getting people engaged in their health and self-care, focusing on active engagement in a sustainable way. The aim is to proactively manage health, rather than to react to and minimise the number of interventions in people’s care.

The patient-centric trends of healthcare will disrupt the insurance industry. In response, customer-centric trends, such as dynamic pricing, life value models and personalisation will re-define the customer experience of what it is to choose, be accepted for and hold an insurance policy. Theresa explains in the AIP podcast that people who are faced with health challenges “seek a partner that not only picks up the bill but helps them navigate complex healthcare systems to ensure they are getting the best possible treatment and support from the most suitable health care provider.” Insurance companies who can support customers to stay healthy will demonstrate longer-term value and in so doing will increase engagement with their customers.

Insurers need to offer more transparent, efficient, cost-effective and engaging propositions; raising the customer experience bar, using a mix of technology and data, new business models, engaging digital products and low-cost customer service channels. However, this is met with the challenge of speed. The market has already started emerging, but the new insurance models and tech need to pass through slow healthcare regulatory proceedings and corporate decision-makers, meaning enough isn’t being done fast enough to facilitate change.

Health-tech startups are leading the way. They work with a real focus on engagement strategies and underpin their products. However, they require experience and data to be able to justify the engagement means, and the data and research can be funded and provided by insurance companies. This is bringing startup health tech and insurance markets together.

One example of this is the elinaapp.com.

The elina app is designed to provide support for individuals in the tracking and managing of long-term pain in collaboration with a team of doctors, professionals and close friends — their chosen ‘e-team’. The app provides a positive and engaging tracking experience, alleviating the impact for users on their professional and personal lives.

From time to time, users seek advice and support from face-to-face consultations with their doctors, physiotherapists, and other carers — often without the benefit of being able to share information with a consistent support network. As an individual, it is hard to keep track and remain positive.

Working on the elina app has shown that human centred design is effective in uncovering the unmet needs of customers. To make the elina app a successful catalyst for behavioural change, it was important to figure out which technology features will have the most impact. The answer to which lies in really understanding people’s needs and simple, intuitive engagement tools and verbal strategies which will remove the complexity of tracking and managing long-term pain.

When the customer experience is so good, it comes as no surprise that people would rather share information with HealthTech services than insurance companies, who, as Theresa describes, often “have difficulty cracking the code, not being perceived as a trusted partner but rather as a necessary evil”. By partnering with a HealthTech Startup, insurers become a daily partner for patients by focusing on patient experience with a holistic solution. Health insurers become health companies.

The elina app is a technology capable of delivering promising new engagement models for both the user and the insurance market. “Partnerships with HealthTechs can help insurers offer better services that go beyond traditional insurance models and build new relationships with their customers! HealthTechs use technology to connect with individuals in an increasingly digital world, generating positive customer experiences and developing the relationships between providers and their customers” — AIP. Strong, customer-centric, socially engaged design, supports customers with health and condition management. By partnering, Insurers can show customers they care about health.

Accelerating Insurance helps insurers cut through the noise and look beyond buzzwords. We provide advisory around InsurTech strategies, digitisation, and new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain. We train, advice, assist and mentor insurance incumbents and InsurTech startups.