3 Ways Health Insurers Can Use Data & Technology to Disrupt the Marketplace

By Megan Wells

The vast amount of data collected within the healthcare sector has the opportunity to positively affect insurers and consumers… if organizations can handle the change brought on by disruptive technologies.


For example, medical insurers have access to an abundance of structured and unstructured behavioral, psychographic, and demographic data points, which can help improve everything from underwriting to customer experience, to operational efficiencies, to fraud reduction. But, to realize the benefits, insurers must also wade through the volume of data across multiple tools and silos, while focusing on the regulatory and compliance requirements of the industry. 


Despite the challenges, technology evangelists see many opportunities to adapt the industry to the modern consumer, aiming to give them more convenience, transparency, timely offers, and personalization. There is reason to believe these changes will be welcomed, too. A 2019 study confirmed that 75% of policyholders may opt for another provider in favor of more seamless service and flexible coverage options. 


With a change in perspective, a willingness to roll out new technology, and the ability to pair disparate datasets together, providers can find new ways to give value to customers that directly benefits the bottom line. 


Here are 3 trends reshaping the health insurance industry in 2021.

1. AI Chatbots

Though Telehealth became an essential component of the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the convenient access to care reshaped how consumers want to interact with medical providers and insurers, permanently. 


Now, in 2021, medical insurance providers are expanding their digital customer experience strategy outreach through AI-powered chatbots, specifically to transform customer service and operational efficiencies: 


  • Chatbots can cut operational costs by up to 30%
  • 37% of people use a customer service bot to get a quick answer in an emergency
  • Chatbots can answer 80% of standard questions
  • 64% of agents who use chatbots are free to spend their time solving more difficult and complex problems


With 24-hour availability and automated data collection, it’s no wonder other industries have seen chatbot usage explode. The health insurance industry (and the consumer) stands to benefit immensely from digital assistants in a few ways:


  • More organized data collection and routing of customer issues
  • Better medication and records management
  • Faster help in emergency situations 
  • Quick and easy solutions for simple questions 


To adapt to the current-day customer expectations (and cut costs in a big way), providers can make use of chatbots to increase touchpoints with customers, giving providers more data and the customer a better experience. 

2. Wearables

Having only just entered the market a few years ago, the wearables industry possesses huge potential gains to insurers as they grow in popularity. What’s not to like about data that not only helps insurers provide personalized services for customers but also improves the health of its users? 


Aside from automating the data sharing process, insurers can simultaneously use this information to adjust their rates to prevent losses while tailoring benefits to clients.


Health insurance providers can take a page out of insurance company John Hancock’s usage of wearables in their innovative Vitality life insurance program. The company will give customers a FitBit, Amazon Halo or Apple Watch to better track their health data and encourage healthy choices because, “[W]earable data allows John Hancock to connect with customers more often and have more touch points,” explains their CEO Brooks Tingle. Their access to this first-hand health data has allowed them to change behavior with discounts and educational content, offering users a personalized experience and giving providers better risk assessments.


The results? John Hancock reported that policyholders have been shown to live 13 to 21 years longer, and also incur 30% lower costs related to hospitalizations. Taken as a whole, this trend can make insurance models less reactive and more proactive.


Exactly how insurers track, analyze and make use of that data in their policy changes? Enter this next trend.

3. Continuous Intelligence

Continuous intelligence provides organizations a 360-degree view of its customers, meaning not only do you have insights into why a particular set of actions occur, but you also gain understanding about the behavioral factors that drive customers’ journeys and interactions across systems. 


According to YFS Magazine, insurance providers that prioritize better intelligence and predictive modeling see:


  • 30% better access to insurance services
  • 40-70% cost savings
  • 60% better fraud detection rates

Rather than business intelligence which is often more static, continuous intelligence (CI) utilizes machine learning to mesh real-time analytics with business operations data intelligence to allow businesses to quickly respond to key moments in the customer journey and other events.


Health insurance providers can use continuous intelligence as the foundation for risk management, customer experience, and even internal management. Here are just some of the ways insurance providers can use continuous intelligence to revamp their business:


  • Analyze policy usage across their customer base to create activity-based pricing strategies
  • Identify trends and opportunities for personalized plans and benefits
  • Augment risk assessment by taking a bird’s-eye view of all behavioral and plan data together
  • Improve customer experience by identifying specific pain points or gaps in service across the customer journey
  • Uncover customer value provided by plans and usage information to help inform retention efforts
  • Streamline claims processing with machine learning.
  • Improve customer experience through improved customer service strategies 


The transformation of the health insurance space is coming - AI chatbots, wearables and continuous intelligence are only just the beginning. As employers (and consumers) get savvy with their insurance choices, providers stand to benefit from offering fresh insight and new ways to engage their customers.


Want to see how Scuba provides 360-degree behavioral intelligence, without added complexity or the need for deep technical expertise? Schedule a demo. Or check out this guide for everything you need to know about improving your customer experience today!


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