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Leveraging Technology for a Healthier Life

Blog: Software AG Blog - Reality Check

live healthier twitterNo one wants to get sick or die before their time. Insurance companies don’t want you to either. This is why many of them are implementing comprehensive “wellness programs” where they subsidize, encourage and monitor customers to ensure they are living the healthiest lives possible.

“Evidence suggests that effective wellness programs that focus on improving lifestyle behaviors such as reducing smoking, improving diet and increasing physical activity can reduce the economic burden of chronic diseases,” according to research from reinsurer RGA Global.

Insurance companies including CIGNA, Prudential, Aetna and AIA Group have implemented wellness programs to one degree or another. These programs encompass a myriad of components, from health assessments to nutrition seminars and fitness tracking. The data is compiled by the insurance company in order to determine which customers are effectively lowering their risks; and those customers or their employers are rewarded by discounts to their insurance premiums.

But how can the insurance company know who is going to the gym, or who is eating healthier food? In the old days, health assessments were done manually by customers, who filled in paper-based forms with detailed health records and sent the forms to their insurers on a regular basis.  Just describing the process on paper is painful, let alone doing it more than once per year. Besides the poor customer experience, processing costs for the insurers made that approach less than rewarding.

Today, activity tracking devices such as Fitbit or Jawbone can send activity data to the insurance company’s database. RFID tags embedded in gym membership cards can keep track of actual attendance, again sending the data to the insurer. Your online grocery shopping can be monitored to check whether you are indulging in too much bacon or cake.

The reality is that there are hundreds of thousands— even millions— of data points coming from customers, devices, doctors, websites and the cloud. And all of this information has to be collected, collated and integrated. Some is electronic, some is input manually. It is expensive for an insurer to manage the data, never mind make sense of it for risk analysis.

RGA said that wellness programs might need to be in place for at least five years before measurable health benefits exceed program costs. So, how does an insurer justify such a program if it is so hard to manage and takes so long to realize the benefits?

The only real answer is to use technology, as AIA Group, the largest independent pan-Asian life insurance company, experienced while designing its science-backed AIA Vitality wellness program for life and health insurance.

In order to become the orchestrator of – and make visible – the myriad of data from apps, devices and doctors associated with its Vitality program across Asia, AIA needed to implement a solid, scalable and agile integration backbone.

Once a wellness program is transparent and measurable, insurance companies can finally see the impact of a healthier life on customers’ risk profiles. Being healthier means needing less medical care, therefore wellness programs have the capability to save customers and insurance companies money.

What more could anyone ask for? You are probably rightly thinking: good health!


The post Leveraging Technology for a Healthier Life appeared first on Reality Check.

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