Globality Health: Take the leap - Gavin Royston

Gavin Royston, regional sales director, UK, at Globality Health, examines, international private health insurance and the journey towards full digitisation, as it could benefit expats and make life easier for CEOs who choose to embrace it.

Full digitisation has grown from relative obscurity into a buzzphrase overnight. Suddenly, large corporations, small businesses, governments and even non-profits are going through a digital transformation. Old paper processes and ways of communication are constantly being converted into computer languages accessible through any internet connection, and, in turn, changing the way we live and make choices.

Full digitisation, however, is not a fad like many technologies before it. According to an analysis by business consulting firm McKinsey & Company, it is here to stay. For industries on the cusp of change, specifically the international private health insurance sector, it is only the beginning of a revolution.

"Now that patients around the world have grown more comfortable using digital networks and services, even for complex and sensitive issues such as healthcare, we believe the time has come for healthcare systems, payers and providers to go 'all in' on their digital strategies," says McKinsey . International insurance companies have begun reinventing themselves; finding that they're not only riding healthcare's digital wave but leading it.

"[Payors] are often perceived as being in the driver's seat in this transformation," according to the 2015 'The future of health insurance' report by international consulting firm Ernst & Young. "Health insurers will need to reinvent their business models in fundamental ways: to get closer to customers, better understand their behaviours and risks, [and] use data and technologies in new ways."

Health insurance solutions

Following its Digital Patient Survey, which interviewed more than 1,000 patients from different genders, age groups and incomes from Germany, Singapore and the UK, McKinsey found that the key to creating a successful digital health insurance solution is not necessarily by 'going big' and solely focusing on disruptive technology. The first step, it said, is improving the attributes that customers seek from their health insurance provider such as efficiency, easy access to information and a readily available line of communication with insurance representatives - 75% of respondents have revealed that they would use digital services if the innovations meet their needs and provide better value. This applies to young and older patients alike with more than 70% of respondents over 50 years of age from Germany and the UK saying that they would want to use digital healthcare services as much as their younger peers. The figures are even higher in Singapore.

"Health systems, payers and providers often think they need to be innovative when designing their digital service offerings. But the core features patients expect from their health system are surprisingly mundane: efficiency, better access to information, integration with other channels and the availability of a real person if the digital service doesn't give them what they need. Highly innovative services, better apps, and more social media are far less important to most patients," the survey reported.

Answering this call to innovation

International expat health insurer Globality Health has devised online and digital solutions to better serve and interact with its unique expat clientele - people who study, live or work abroad. Globality Health has designed My Globality, a completely new interactive multiplatform portal accessible online and through mobile, where insured members can quickly correspond with its 3,000 experts worldwide, efficiently submit claims, keep track of documents, locate medical services at home and abroad, and learn useful advice on potential host countries. These improvements have already yielded great outcomes like further increasing efficiency within the claims process.

"There has been a widely positive response among our insured members," Globality Health states. "We have clients all over the world and new services like the E-Claims app, for example, have made it even easier to send medical invoices from their current destination. Our mobile app and online platform has created a constant open line of communication between our representatives and customers, resulting in a much faster claims process."

Private health insurance companies should only move to more comprehensive customer service offerings once they have solidified the first building blocks of their digital platform, the McKinsey report added. This continuous development towards full digitisation will ensure that private insurers will not only remain relevant within the increasingly high-tech healthcare sector but also pave the way for even more sophisticated innovation.

Globality Health has already guaranteed its digital growth by providing customers with a safe method to access their information: the double encryption security process within the My Globality portal and E-claims app. It is also currently developing an upcoming online HR portal to help HR personnel better manage their group insurance.

According to Ernst & Young, within the heart of the journey towards full digitisation lies understanding what your insured customer needs, and going above and beyond to provide that. In its analysis, it suggests leaping towards a technology-enabled business model that "transforms insurance from a short-term contractual relationship to a longer-term collaborative one by laying the foundation for ongoing engagement with customers". The question now is whether other private health insurance providers are willing to follow suit and take the leap.

Gavin Royston, regional sales director, UK, at Globality Health.