By Mayank Bathwal, CEO, Aditya Birla Health Insurance
Over the past two years, we have seen a wave of changes in the health insurance industry in India. Before the pandemic, digitization and technology had made strides to accelerate, complement and improve the healthcare and health insurance industry. However, COVID-19 has highlighted the need for the health insurance sector in relation to the welfare and healthcare sectors to upgrade, improve and digitize their strategy, operating model, data and transactions. More than ever, health insurers have recognized the connection between customer experience and digital strategy, transformation approaches and operational improvement.
The launch of the National Digital Health Mission will also enable a digital backbone for integrated healthcare delivery in India. It will further leverage digital technologies that will drive healthcare inclusion and improve health outcomes. There will be an increasing use of technology and digital by the insurance sector to create new opportunities, not only to acquire customers, but also to enhance the customer lifecycle and health/wellness management. Digital data helps the customer at all three stages – pre-release, post-release and claims. From better curated service to fraud and risk detection, digitized customer data can go a long way in improving the customer journey.
If health insurers have moved to remote sales and service teams, customers have also become more adept at taking advantage of digital services at every step of the typical health insurance process. Customers are now using their health insurers’ apps and website to access information and process claims. Insurers are also using digital investments to differentiate products, solutions, partnerships and engagement models. It will be imperative to build a digital, data-driven organization that combines customer insights, offerings, skills, employees and culture in a way that is distinctive and difficult to replicate.
Some areas of focus will include:
Engage in digital ecosystems – With an increase in customer demands for flexibility and integrated experiences, more insurers are recognizing that the future of digital insurance will require leveraging digital ecosystems to reinvent products, distribution channels, value propositions, service delivery, and more. Digital ecosystems can drive greater value and economic relevance for insurance companies by providing benefits such as better risk management, better claims adjudication and new revenue streams. Hence, the need to create a consumer-centric, digitally enabled and fully integrated digital health ecosystem to adapt to the changing landscape.
In addition to improving the customer experience, it also enables customers to access affordable and high-value healthcare. Overall, digital ecosystems offer insurers the opportunity to engage customers, fully automate insurance engines, strengthen partnerships with providers, and focus on better healthcare outcomes.
Build products and services to meet the demands of a digital world – Creating new, byte-sized, personalized digital offerings will be critical for the industry. Providing contextual offers to the customer also makes insurance relevant to the largest group of consumers.
Distribution Channels – Insurers will need to go beyond digitizing traditional channels to create digitally enabled distribution channels that fully leverage the power of digital tools and analytics for advice, sales engagement and relationship management. Self-service through digital mediums will be the new essential for customer service in the industry.
With the growing need and value of health insurance, such newer channels will definitely help in a highly refined customer experience as well as enable the creation of a curated offering with personalization and transparency. It will be data-driven and digital that will ease the process of buying and reviewing insurance.
The pandemic has also brought a big change in the consumer behavior of customers. Such newer channels will help expand the industry’s reach, especially to millennials and the younger population.
Customer Experience – Using data and technology together is key to delivering a personalized and improved customer experience. Insurance companies will benefit from increased speed, accuracy and efficiency with the help of deep industry expertise and AI-based tools. Using AI in claims where customers can chat with a voice bot or chat assistant can be extremely useful. Some companies offer real-time assessment via the Selfie app, and the claim journey can begin with an image analytics engine that assesses the damage and immediately consents to clearing the claim.
Increasingly, we would recognize that the welfare of customers is a win-win situation for the insurer and the insured. Therefore, the use of digital tools for managing the health of the insured, enabling a social network of such beneficiaries, offering an ecosystem of products and services, would also become the norm.
We will also see some insurance technology-enabled, data-driven digital solutions such as machine learning and Blockchain that help the health insurance sector in optimizing the process for underwriting, claims processing and managing customer queries. benefiting both customers and health insurers equally.