Healthcare In The Digital Decade

Asia’s healthcare presents strong opportunities for insurtech, and the pandemic has helped open up the rules in some cases, David Benyon writes.

Ageing demographics and a burgeoning middle class mean that the healthcare market in Asia will become an increasingly prominent avenue of opportunity for insurance technology in the next decade.

Firstly, there is a major protection gap in Asia for health insurance, a gap which governments will struggle to fill with free state provided solutions as populations continue to grow and to age. Healthcare solutions for large portions of Asian society – particularly the emerging middle class – represent big opportunities for insurtech innovators.

However, incumbent insurers have not been characterised for their tech savvy. Nor have the strict rules in place in many jurisdictions encouraged innovation – rules that are there to safeguard patients’ private medical information and to protect against instances of fraud.

Then came the pandemic. Lockdown life during Covid-19 has meant patients have been unable to physically attend appointments, provide ID in person, or visit pharmacists face-to-face during the circuit-breaker periods.

Insurers have had to accelerate their adoption of telemedicine and web-based services during the pandemic. In a fast time-frame these have become the primary access routes for consultations. Clinics have been closed, and policies that previously had to be incepted in person can now be brought online.

This situation has compelled regulators to modernise their rules for the digital era, allowing technology to play more of a part in health insurance. In some countries – including China and Singapore – public health regulators are playing a more active role in working with insurers and technologists, to help build the next generation of solutions.

Partnerships seem the way forward for health insurance technology solutions, as in so many other insuretech segments. Healthcare insurers and medical organisations with access to consumers’ data will need to work together closely with technology and regulators.

Many healthcare insurance consumers – even those with adequate protection in place – have traditionally suffered poor quality customer experience in this sector. These subpar customer journeys are linked to outdated manual workflows and fragmented medical data. New technologies, particularly artificial intelligence and its many applications, are helping to better understand customers’ needs, so that those insurers that want to innovate can create a more personalized customer experience.

Many people already have healthcare insurance but they don’t understand how to use it. They don’t know what their options are, or how their cover might relate to the treatments on offer. Find an approach to solve such problems for the consumer while managing the sector’s regulatory requirements and insurtech will be on to a winner.

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