RGA provides quarterly updates on global product developments, which can be made available upon request. Click here to view the Q1 2018 digital newsletter.
What is next after consulting Dr. Google?
Medical searches are among the most common Google searches. No longer is medical and health information only available to the professionals. Customers can now research their symptoms and even go as far to make their own diagnoses. In Europe, a recently launched symptom checker and triage platform has had several successful pilots with insurers. The platform claims that after answering a series of diagnostic questions, up to 26% of submitted cases are treatable without the need for direct involvement by physicians.
Life and health insurers now offer virtual health care where customers can connect with doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals. A doctor’s appointment can be booked online, outside of business hours, and maybe conducted through secure live video consultations, text, or telephone. In some cases, such services are offered 24/7 from anywhere in the world. Data used for diagnoses can be downloaded from wearable devices such as smart phones, smart watches, and smart asthma inhalers.
The advantages of using a virtual doctor include the ability to obtain a convenient appointment time, to avoid the long wait times to see one’s local general practitioner (GP), and to get a specialist referral letter, all in a single visit.
Many insurers also offer health apps that help locate nearby specialists, provide online coaching, or supply educational apps that teach first aid. Chatbots such as Alexa can answer health questions, find a recipe for a recent heart patient, provide an exercise workout after a fracture, share healthy living tips, or provide links to alternative therapists offering massage and acupuncture. Multilingual chatbots are being developed, but progress has been limited by factors such as cost, complexity, and scalability. Currently, most medical chatbots only operate in one or two languages.
Medicines can be prescribed online and delivered to one’s door. Since health expenses generally have to be paid immediately after a customer receives treatment, insurers now offer more flexible products that provide payment as soon as a customer is diagnosed with an illness. Insurers have linked up with fintech innovators to provide innovations such as mobile wallets and push-payment platforms. Some insurers offer cashless outpatient claims systems which give real-time claims authentication of expenses.
In the area of mental health, insurers now offer access to mental health support and online counseling. Mindfulness apps are available, as well as a journaling app that offers rewards bucks for those customers who commit to writing in their journals on a regular basis.
Digital health today offers the support and information customers need if diagnosed with a serious illness. In the case of diabetes, a lifestyle intervention platform is offered to link customers with human coaches who will support their efforts to change their diets and increase their physical activity.
Health records can now be accessed using one’s smartphone. Customers will soon have all their health history at their fingertips and in one place. There are platforms that enable individuals to aggregate and control all of their available health information, including electronic health records, data from wearables, ancestry, and genomics data.
Predictions state that there will be more apps that deal with the management of chronic disease and illnesses, such as addiction. Artificial intelligence (AI) virtual assistants will also aid disease diagnosis and the treatment of mental health issues. The use of virtual reality will help people manage their mental health by managing symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).
Stay tuned for future releases of our quarterly newsletter to see where the next innovations will take us.