ITIJ are reporting on all the discussions taking place at ITIC APAC 2022 in Singapore. Read more of the reviews here
Zubin Daruwalla, Health Industries Leader | PwC Singapore
Dr Daruwalla gave a clinician’s perspective on the need for the ongoing evolution of digital health solutions for insurers and patients. “Insurers,” he began, “traditional or otherwise, are at various levels of evolution across the digital journey, with most legacy players still lagging behind.” However, new partnerships between insurers and tech providers have paved the way for new solutions, despite certain barriers remaining in place.
Dr Daruwalla highlighted issues that hamper the design, development and implementation of digital solutions, including the lack of collaboration, acquisition and retention of talent, and the use of legacy systems. “Moreover,” he told ITIC attendees, “there is a fear and lack of understanding when it comes to using and sharing data.” Plus, he said, we need to start looking at things differently – it’s not about return on investment, it’s about return on experience. Furthermore, change has to be led from the top: “When initiatives are led from the ground up, they almost never work. There has to be buy in from the top.”
Moving on, Zubin looked at to how to solve the problems facing the industry. Several solutions were offered, including spending time understanding what patients and their doctors actually want, developing a strategy that is right for all players, and having a dedicated team with the right capabilities onboard.
“A number of categories of disruptive digital solutions now exist that health insurers could use,” Dr Daruwalla told the audience. These include chatbots/artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual and mixed reality customer experiences, connected devices, and cloud computing, which enables access to, and analysis of, big data.
Digital marketing was also noted to be of vital importance for insurers, with Dr Daruwalla pointing out that ‘optimising digital marketing has the ability to unlock significant impact for insurers’. “Yet, many insurers do not have a robust customer engagement strategy for digital channels or for required digital marketing, analytics, and marketing-technology capabilities,” he warned.
Digital solutions, he concluded, need to be about the consumer: focus on the patients and doctors using the systems; partner up with companies already offering solutions that work; ensure transparency in your operation; look after data carefully; and ensure that your solutions result in improved clinical outcomes.
Zubin left the audience with some final food for thought: “There are four main trends that we're seeing in the world when it comes to health. And I like to call them the 'ABCs'. There’s Artificial intelligence and intelligent Automation. There is Big data, and there is the Consumerism or patient Centricity. There is D for digital. But of all of these, the C is the biggest and most important one, and it must not be forgotten. Anything that we do, regardless of whether we’re a payer or provider, we have to think about it from the consumer from the patient angle. Let’s not reinvent the wheel.”
Managing Director, Health & Public Service
Asad identified several trends in the provision of care related to technology; one of which is move from hospital to home for acuity care, which is driving down costs, and is going to help governments and insurers to reach their goals of providing value-based care. “The hospital of the future is not going to be the hospital we see now,” he told attendees. “It’s going to be probably a command centre, a C3 type of place where doctors are monitoring the patients remotely. The moment the doctor and the patient show up the hospital, the cost goes up.”
Another technological trend influencing healthcare is what he termed ‘the precision medicine revolution’ – the focus on genomes – although this will inevitably result in concerns about data privacy and what insurers are going to do with the data could be concerning for the patients.
Hybrid care models, Asad continued, saying ‘consumers are demanding care on their own terms, where they want it, how they want it’. Other issues technology could help to solve include the global shortage of healthcare staff, an ageing population, healthcare equity, and personalisation of healthcare services. For insurers, it’s about partnering with companies offering the services that can truly benefit their members, providing customer-centric information and recommendations and using technology that provides an immersive experience.
Returning to genomes, Asad used the example of technology pushing medicine forward, showing that 23andme used the DNA customers were providing for medical trials, with results showing that when medicine was targeted towards a specific set of DNA, success rate more than doubled. “If you’re predisposed to certain disease,” he said, “potentially, you can use that data to, maybe not prevent the onset of the disease, but delay its onset. Imagine if you can delay the onset of diabetes for, five years; there’s a tremendous cost saving in that.”
“Data is the new oil,” concluded Asad, and until we effectively and efficiently – and securely – share data, we are losing out on the potential that technology offers.