ITC DIA Europe

Why healthier customers means healthier insurers

Written by Roger Peverelli and Reggy de Feniks - Founders The DIA Community on Oct 27, 2023

Never before has the interest in health been so big. Most Western societies are faced with an ageing population and health care costs are rising. How can we find new ways to manage healthcare costs – and how can advanced technology play a role?

What are the key health priorities for consumers, and how can tech support? Which tech applications can make a difference to offer more patient relief, improve patient care, and reduce costs? And that all at the same time? Which new services open up new business models and revenue streams? At ITC DIA Europe Barcelona, Elena Torrente, deputy director of digital health development at DKV Seguros and ambassador of the Barcelona Health Hub, hosted the talk show: Why Healthier Customers Means Healthier Insurers. Speakers included: Marie Beille, Health Impact Lead Global Access at Roche, François Jacquemin, Manager Director at Foyer Global Health, Ali Hassan, Chief Medical & Healthcare Officer at Vitality and Kim-Fredrik Schneider, Co-founder & CEO at Abi Global Health. We sat down with Kim from Abi Global Health, to ask him a few questions about his contribution to the talk show.

Kim, how can insurers positively impact the health of their customers?

Kim: “I think many insurers are stuck way before the internet age, where there’s this fundamental paradigm that the way to improve loss ratios is to give people less. In particular, in the way claims management is set up: give people less, to make more money. Technology enables us to give people more, in ways that are economically more efficient and profitable. The correct deployment of technology in the health insurance space can deliver on that promise. Think of it as a formula: technology has to give the customer extra value, and simultaneously reduce costs to make health benefits sustainable in the long term.”

Most health insurers already offer telemedicine services among their basic services. What is your opinion on that?

Kim: “This is a good example of a technology deployed for its own sake, without keeping the formula previously mentioned in mind. We recognized that if you’re replacing a 15-minute face-to-face visit with a doctor, with a 15-minute video visit with a doctor, you’re not going to save much money if anything at all. In this case, you’re providing more service, but healthcare costs go up. During Covid in particular healthcare costs went up and it was creating more stress on the system. You’re taking one thing and doing it in a different format, but in an analogous way.”

What would be a better solution?

Kim: “Our view on telemedicine is that technology has to enter the consultation itself. That’s what we do at Abi Global Health. We’ve created our own in-house suite of AI tools that make the consultation itself more efficient and deliver a better customer experience with more support on demand. This is done in a way that actually reduces health care costs because the consultations are cheaper and expensive interventions are avoided.”

How do you see the role of Artificial Intelligence with regard to healthcare professionals?

Kim: “Our view is that it’s not so much a question of whether the technology is ready to “replace doctors” or “replace some of their work”. The real question for us is: Do the patients trust it? There is a focus on how accurate symptom checkers are, but you don’t hear a lot of people talking about whether people believe the result enough to change their behaviour. If you don’t have trust and you don’t have behaviour change, you don’t have a return on the payer’s investments. So for us, there’s that question of trust, and that means the doctor will continue to be central.

There’s also a question of accountability with AI: who is responsible? Again, this is why we think it’s important to keep the doctor front and centre. And then finally, you have a question of governance. This is missing from a lot of the conversations around AI, but it is critical to the applications of AI in health care. In our view, efficiency is where the technology lives. Accountability is the human element, and governance is actually a shared responsibility in order to set the rules and parameters.”

How do you see the future of health insurance – where do you see new business models or revenue streams emerge?

Kim: “We need to provide services that include insurance, instead of providing insurance that includes services. Some of our insurance clients are starting from scratch and really starting with that premise in mind. We have clients that don’t even use the word “insurance” anywhere in any of their marketing material. They offer a package of services and one of those services happens to include coverage, but it’s not the sort of primary front and centre element.

I also think there’s going to be a lot more integration across the healthcare spectrum models again, in line with the kind of HMO models we see in the US moving into Europe. Again, I think the right way to think about this is to start with the patient in mind, to start with the customer in mind and build backwards from there. And what you’ll see with that kind of model is that you generally will land on services first, and insurance second.”

Who is Abi Global Health?

Abi Global Health’s founding vision is to make healthcare radically accessible for all. The company connects patients with healthcare professionals using AI, optimising resource allocation, unlocking hidden capacity, and ultimately leading to improved patient engagement and better health outcomes. Abi Global Health partners with public and private payers, consumer health companies, and pharmaceutical companies to provide its customers with on-demand access to professional healthcare. Abi Global Health is an Irish company, founded in 2016 by two experienced health technology entrepreneurs, Kim-Fredrik Schneider and Dr. Victor Vicens. The company operates locally in more than 40 countries and across the United States.

Kim-Fredrik Schneider, Co-founder & CEO at Abi Global Health
London 27-28 January

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