An Unexpected Consequence of the Pandemic: COVID-19 has Widened the Gap Between Consumers and Insurers
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Insurers have been making efforts to get better proximity between them and their customers but part of the fallout from the current pandemic has put serious strain on these plans. Tricia Burton, VP of Marketing at PAI Health, a company that uses heart rate data to help people understand their health, has given some insight into this problem.
Social distancing brought about by the recent pandemic has changed human behaviour profoundly, and it is unknown when we will return to normal. In fact, it may be safe to say that a full return to normalcy is now out of the question, since living and communicating in entirely new ways has caused consumers to embrace digital technology like never before.
This health crisis has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies across all industry channels to the tipping point of mass market consumption. We are seeing a surge in video conferencing, online grocery shopping, remote work systems, e-learning and food delivery services – to name just a few examples. And many businesses have had to re-engineer their entire business models and infrastructure to survive.
The digital health sector has seen a sizable shift in consumer adoption and attitudes. Telemedicine has been available for many years, but yet consumer adoption has been slow. For example in 2019, only 8% of US consumers had used telemedicine. This has changed dramatically in the past few months. A recent survey found that between February and March 2020, the percentage of US adults who had tried telemedicine increased from 11% to 17% and those who intend to try it went from 18% to 30%.
Offering a robust suite of digital health apps and services was previously perceived as a millennial-focused strategy by the health and insurance industry. However, the recent pandemic has turned telemedicine into an essential life-saving tool across all age groups and demographics – helping to triage, share medical data and provide remote patient care.
Insurers Are Facing Disruption
For insurers, this rapid adoption of technology generates a sense of urgency as the gap has widened between consumers’ expectations and insurers’ capabilities. Business as unusual is the new norm, and everything has changed.
– How do you adapt distribution when in-person sales channels are no longer viable?
– How do you underwrite new customers if applicants are not able to get lab tests or exams?
– How do you integrate new processes to seamlessly support telemedicine consultations?
– How do you encourage healthy lifestyle habits when people can’t go to their gyms and weight management clinics, or even leave their house?
– How do members get post-rehabilitation care when they can’t go see a physiotherapist?
The Solutions Are All Within Reach
These are complex challenges and insurmountable if faced alone. Fortunately for insurers, the tech community has their back. Now is the time to leverage the numerous insurtech and health tech providers that have spent years building solutions to address each of these problems.
It’s time to experiment with these solutions and integrate technology as an essential service, as consumer expectations demand it and business will shift to insurers who can deliver.
Some organizations are responding by sharing financial or health tech resources with members to ease the burden of COVID-19. With health and wellness being top of mind for many during this pandemic, insurers can help members by offering digital solutions that help people stay healthy.
About PAI Health
PAI Health is a health software company providing data insights rooted in the proven science of cardiorespiratory fitness, one of the leading predictors of longevity and health. The company offers easy-to-deploy digital services that enable insurers to engage, assess, monitor and guide members toward better health.
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