RGA provides quarterly updates on global product developments, which can be made available upon request. View the 1Q 2022 digital newsletter.
COVID-19 has breached the barriers to virtual healthcare faster than anything in history. Health has never been more important.
Recent insurance product innovations focus on four pillars of virtual healthcare, including physical, mental, financial, as well as social health.
Virtual health is defined by the Deloitte’s Survey as continuous, connected care delivered via digital and telecommunication channels. The care is provided regardless of a patient’s location. Support and care are provided through video, mobile devices apps, secure email, text/SMS messaging or online social platforms. This survey of health executives predicts that by 2040 a major portion of care, prevention, and well-being services will shift to virtual settings. The prediction is that 25% of all patient care will be delivered virtually.
In the U.S. a recent survey by Optum of health care providers found that physicians will continue to keep virtual models after the pandemic; these models have been filling the gaps in healthcare especially in mental health. A national study by telehealth company Teladoc Health found that 70% of organizations plan to implement a whole-person virtual care strategy in the next three years. The virtual health market in the United States is projected to grow more than 23% annually over the next five years, reaching close to US$100 billion by 2025, according to a recent estimate.
Virtual health is seen as a way of improving access, lowering costs, and providing better and more pertinent health outcomes for individuals. The delivery of Telehealth services is more convenient but also has its challenges, particularly if the patient is not technologically savvy at all.
Health insurers can offer a virtual primary care service that is personalized to the patient’s unique care needs through AI -driven modelling and analytics. Data from the initial symptom assessment can be shared with the virtual primary care doctor. This data also leads insurers to incorporate a system of rewards and proactive monitoring of habits that rewards patients with a reduction in insurance premiums together with gifts. The boosting of healthy habits leads customers to lead longer and healthier lives.
During the pandemic, telehealth has become a new way of life. We have had to adjust to having virtual GP appointments for our health concerns and virtual prescription ordering. The range of virtual health services offered continues to expand. On the physical side they now include health assessments, second medical opinions, and even dentistry. For mental health, access is now available for CBT, iCBT, guided meditation, mindfulness, and counselling sessions.
Life and health insurers have partnered with specialists in telemedicine such as Dialogue, Teladoc, and Doctor on Demand to facilitate access to virtual care. In Hong Kong, telecom and internet service provider Smartone has partnered with an insurer and with Teladoc to offer unlimited telehealth consultations with primary care physicians, or GPs. They also offer health screenings and discounts at partner clinics. Health insurers now offer Group Plans that are completely virtual first. United Health’s health plan NavigateNOW gives around-the-clock access to care and same-day appointments to its patients. In the U.K., Group plans have expanded their health and well-being offerings to include apps for mental health and wearable devices, as well as apps for physiotherapy and that help diagnose a musculoskeletal (MSK) problem.
Virtual care and the four pillars
Virtual care is now being expanded to include the four pillars of a person’s health by considering their physical, mental, financial, and social health. Betterfly, a wellbeing platform that partners with insurers, defines some of the main goals of a company as the promotion of the wellbeing of its employees; to care for the environment; have a purpose aimed for the common good, support, and communities in which they operate.
Examples of the 360-degree approach to health in Asia include MetLife’s launch of the 360 Health Virtual Care solutions app. The app provides customers and their immediate family with access to leading international specialists across more than 40 specialties and 430 subspecialities. It is a multichannel offering giving customers the choice to use their preferred channel online, by telephone, or via the mobile app.
In the U.S., Wellvolution, is a digitally based lifestyle medicine and health platform provided in collaboration with insurers that can be personalized to each member's individual health needs and preferences. It includes lifestyle tools and support to help you lose weight, lower stress, quit smoking, create healthy habits, and treat diabetes. In Canada the premier health and wellness virtual healthcare platform, Lumino Health Virtual Care , offers 24/7 virtual access to Dialogue’s EAP services. The support provided will include services for Stress & Wellness; Work & Career; Legal & Financial; and Family and Relationship help.
Insurers continue to bring innovation to their offerings by partnering with insurtechs and digital health specialists in the virtual health space. The health conditions covered continue to expand and now include remote monitoring, dentistry, virtual physiotherapy, virtual MSK solutions, substance abuse management, chronic disease management, and many more.
In South Africa a large insurer introduced TytoHome2 a mobile medical device that enables you to have a remotely guided virtual consultation with a doctor. The medical exam kit is portable, lightweight, and includes an examination camera, thermometer, otoscope, and stethoscope. The device enriches the virtual consultation experience by providing doctors with a live feed of clinical images and sounds. These images and sounds can be shared in real time using the DiscoveryConnected Care app. Tytohome allows for the examination of heart rate, ears, breathing, sore throats, temperature, skin conditions, fever, and sounds from digestive systems.
Dental Services are now being offered virtually as well. Insurers have partnered with insurtechs such as Teledentisty.com, Teledentix, and Smilo.ai. Patients can now have 24/7 virtual access to a dentist.
The Grin app includes the first-of-its-kind Grin Scope. The Grin Scope is a mini- FDA listed medical device which attaches to any smartphone camera and takes scans to measure changes to patients' teeth.
The quip app provides users with personalized feedback related to brush duration, tooth/gum coverage and intensity, plus the opportunity to earn rewards. It seamlessly synchs with the quip smart Electric Toothbrushes.
Partnerships are also made with digital health specialists, for example Hinge Health and Optum’s Kaia program offer digital physical therapy platforms for back and joint pain, surgeries, and opioid use, while KidneyLink and Oshi Health offer the first virtual gastrointestinal care clinic that integrates medical care, dietary advice, and behavioral health support. Medx Health offers a teledermatology screening program, and RecoveryOne ’s platform offers virtual MSK solutions. Alavida Health in Canada offers ALAViDA's TRAiL Hello Premium program to treat substance use management. It uses a connected virtual care model that links physicians, therapists, and a virtual companion to meet individual needs and goals.
Virtual health has also expanded into chronic disease management where insurers have linked up with insurtechs to help customers manage these diseases. In Australia Zurich has partnered with Pops Self Care Platform on a mobile health app that enables life insurance customers with diabetes to monitor their blood levels and self-manage their diabetes. The app allows people to play an active role in managing their condition with “Mina” as their 24/7 virtual coach. In the U.S. Highmark Health has launched Well360 Diabetes Management, a virtual care program powered by Onduo, a Verily company, for adults with type 2 diabetes. In Mexico Amae is a digitally delivered insurance product and the first coverage targeted to individuals with Type 2 diabetes. The program is fully virtual, accessible from anywhere on any connected device and with no cost to the member. In addition, Healthy.io and Medica now offer the ability to test kidney function at home, ideally leading to the early detection of chronic kidney disease.
Insurers also want to give their Critical Illnesses customers access to the best virtual care, which can include remote care monitoring. In Canada partnerships include Maple and ivari , and Equitable Life and Cloud DX . Cloud DX will provide remote patient monitoring services to eligible claimants. The Cloud DX connected Health Kit offers users the ability to take clinical vital sign measurements and participate in two-way feedback via surveys, text messaging, and video calls with a healthcare professional.
Insurers now offer access to mental health apps. The apps offer AI-guided listening and self-management mental wellbeing support modules. These can be effective for many, especially across depression, stress, and anxiety. Calm, Thrive, Wysa and Headspace are some examples of those available. Counselling sessions and specialized internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) is offered. In Hong Kong Mind Healer on Emma by AXA mobile app and in South America Vitak provides vital conversations with a wellness assistant. In South Africa Vimbo Health offers app-based treatments for depression and anxiety. Patients get to learn the basics of mental wellness and develop coping strategies to tackle challenging behaviors and anxieties. They learn the skills of journaling and meditation. The app is designed to assist users at every stage of their mental health journey.
Insurers are also interested in their customers’ financial health, and offer financial planning tools to help customers keep track of their financial health. They also offer mobile retirement apps that assess a person’s retirement readiness and help customers work towards their goals. My FinScore is an AI-powered financial planning tool to help customers keep track of their financial health. The tool also offers customized product recommendations to help customers improve their score. Some other financial wellness apps available include Flamingo Tech (Australia), Livetopic and iQuantifi . These apps help users manage their finances and set savings goals. Prospr by Sun Life is the first-of-its-kind hybrid advice solution a place for customers to select, prioritize and track their goals, it also gives virtual access to a financial adviser.
Insurers are also aware of the social aspect of a customer’s life. In Canada the Foresters Go Wellness app now includes a Purpose and community feature. Members can earn Rewards Points for engaging in volunteerism, mentoring, and sustainable environmental initiatives. Members can redeem the rewards points they earn for merchandise (e.g., tablets, smart watches), gift cards, or charitable donations. Lemonade is an insurer that allows customers to support causes they care about simply by getting a Lemonade insurance policy. Customers choose a non-profit and then any unclaimed money is donated to the cause of their choice. John Hancock will match each dollar saved by customers through the HealthyFood program for the remainder of 2022 with a donation to a national non-profit organization that provides affordable access to nutritious food. Betterfly also focuses on the impact of social health and a focus on the collective wellbeing. Customers can earn Bettercoins by having healthier habits. These coins can then be used to make charitable donations to a cause of their choosing. A team mindset within a company can lead to charitable donations to help communities and the planting of trees for the environment.
There will continue to be more advances in virtual health care and insurers are well placed to refine their offerings that help customers to lead healthier lives. The data provided via AI -driven modelling and analytics will help them personalize their offerings (while remembering to ensure the customer is happy for them to use their data in this way). It is important to remember the four pillars of a person’s health, and insurers must consider a customer’s physical, mental, financial, and social health. We will likely see more products that empathize the social impacts of how we choose to live our lives.
Stay tuned for future releases of our quarterly newsletter to see where the next innovations will take us.