“Making decisions informed by mHealth helps us and our families lead better lives. The information is at your fingertips: will you use it?”

Book of Futures mHealth

Globally, insurers are noticing the allure of mHealth – mobile health – to change the conversation from risk and loss to a more engaging one on health for the customer.

Particularly in Asia, insurance mHealth propositions such as AIA’s Vitality and Manulife’s MOVE are centred on physical activity tracking. In these programs insurers provide discounts on renewal premiums and improve coverage if customers achieve activity-based goals such as steps taken. The opportunity is greater when mHealth is addressed more holistically by including features that are important to varied customer segments such as emotional wellbeing, medication management and emergency response management.

These propositions come as the use of mobile tracking devices for general medical surveillance is reported to be on the rise, as is the level of investment in accurate measuring devices.

In 2015 Google launched a wristband with the lofty claim that it could monitor vital signs to such a degree of accuracy that it would be suitable for use in clinical trials and since then several such devices have hit the shelves for general consumption. Ava, a fertility tracking bracelet for women is another good example. Ava’s sensors collect data on nine different physiological parameters and, using its algorithm, then detects the fertile window.

Online health support services such as Babylon are giving patients instant access to doctors by email or video link, removing the need to visit a local GP in person. Patients simply log in to a virtual waiting room online and wait until the doctor is ready to see them. The ever-increasing pressures on GPs to provide services to more people, more effectively, means that video consultations are likely to penetrate the public health service. With technology enabling remote access to the doctor, the natural next step is the remote download of your vital signs for analysis by the doctor on screen for a more thorough online consultation. AI health apps such as Ada, which remove the need for initial consultation with doctors, are also seeing significant traction. Ada first understands the patient by asking questions on personal attributes, medical history and current symptoms; it then applies its AI engine to the collected information to suggest the right medical care. 

Data, data, everywhere

Accurate monitoring devices can take some of the guesswork out of health issues. In appointments of the future, instead of the doctor asking how you have been, you might instantly share your data set and a system could generate a report on the fly that provides an instant and comprehensive review of your current health. Taken further, if this data was to be periodically fed into monitoring systems your doctor could flag up issues before you have even noticed anything is wrong. This preventative care could not only save insurance companies significant sums of money, it could also help us to live much healthier lives with less disruption from sickness.

With the advantages of mHealth devices and apps becoming increasingly apparent, businesses are now looking to reap some of the benefits. Fitbit has previously revealed that the fastest growing area of its business is supplying companies with devices to monitor their employees’ health. It sounds creepy to some but it is optional for employees, and it provides employers with opportunities to monitor and support their wellbeing.

Using the data gained as a cost-saving tool for insurance policies, employers are turning to mHealth devices as a perk that benefits both themselves and their employees. Providing services such as Babylon as an employee benefit means that employees can deal with medical issues more flexibly and at times convenient to them. While this is great for reducing stress on employees, it also minimises lost working hours for employers.

A healthy future

To see how technology is enabling these support services to evolve is fascinating. Making decisions informed by this technology helps us and our families lead better lives. The information is at your fingertips; the question is, will you use it?