Today, the coronavirus has made people re-evaluate their thinking about healthcare and healthcare insurance in general. As health systems are trying to keep patients out of general practitioners’ offices, the newest technology comes to save the day, keeping both patients and doctors out of harm's way.
Well taken care of
Many people declare that due to the fear of the virus they want to extend the scope of their policy, with health protection above all. Furthermore, they are more likely to search for help when they get sick, go to hospital, or lose their jobs. Especially those impacted by the pandemic are more vulnerable, including elderly, disable or chronically ill patients.
As countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence in coronavirus cases, many people are still advised to stay and work from home, so doctors see virtual visits as the only way of caring for those who are at higher risk. It is apparent that health insurance companies are taking the lead in providing their customers with the solutions and services enabling remote consultations and self-monitoring.
Bupa Global launched a new virtual GP service to support their SMEs and corporate customers. The service offers on-demand and free consultations with medical specialists accessible on a 24/7 basis. Furthermore to support expats before they set out on their journey Bupa also launched an online Assignment Support Programme.
MetLife UK is also taking advantage of technology innovations with its medical tele-underwriting services for a range of their group insurance products. The service offers flexible telephone consultations as an alternative to traditionally written health questionnaire forms. Such form of underwriting cuts down the time spent on filling out the form, and helps to ensure that customers answer all necessary questions eliminating the need for any follow-ups – all done in a save remote way.
Cigna Insurance supports not only their clients but also employees by launching well-being webinars hosted by health practitioners.
However, while it is quite natural that insurance companies are helping people live longer and healthier lives, banks should also pay interest in providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of their current and future customers. Nevertheless, banks are barely addressing the matter, which has become more significant than ever, especially since collaboration between banks and financial technology providers seems to be key for driving change and new revenue streams in the post-pandemic reality.
As many banks are currently re-thinking their strategies, an opportunity knocks to break out of the traditional branch model and focus on how to deliver specific added value that can complement digital banking core in a unique way. What plays to banks’ advantage is that they can be well placed to participate or even drive ecosystem solutions by owning a combination of operational capabilities, technology and financing.
Apart from new opportunities for banks in the field of digital payments, there are also other growth areas emerging from investment in healthcare. Through partnership with technology players and medical centers, banks are also able to offer new benefits to different customer groups including mass-affluent and High-Net-Worth-Individuals (HNWIs).
Siam Commercial Bank from Thailand, took advantage of such approach by launching collaboration with Samitivej Hospital enabling their Wealth Service customers to gain new benefits including access to digital healthcare services. SCB has actively been developing the wealth division and subsequently pursued wealth customers since 2018, and to bring their services to the next level they have come up with ‘The first Prestige Health & Wealth Experience’ concept. The offer includes not only the healthcare services but also medical innovations to ensure smooth technological assistance to the bank’s customers, who can for example get a doctor’s appointment online, and view their medical history.
Another area of focus for SCB was customer experience, and that is why they have created a premium lounge in the garden at the hospital, where patients can enjoy the ambience and relaxing atmosphere while being served healthy and nutritious drinks. The investment paid off for the bank as and they have noted 13.3 percent of increase in assets under management (AUM) from 2017, and their number of clients in the UHNWI customer segment also significantly increased amounting to around 123,000 customers in 2019.
Telehealth for all?
The concept of telehealth has been around for a long time, nevertheless European strict standards of privacy and data protection, have kept it out of the mainstream for far too long. Due to the high demand of remote healthcare European regulators eg in Britain and Germany have started loosening their rules.
This creates a huge opportunity and potential new revenue streams for the digital companies as well as their partners providing financial services. However, to prevent data and cybersecurity breaches banks should make sure they team up with reliable vendors, who comply with local security and data regulations such as GDPR in Europe. Other regions including Africa have not experienced such bumpy ride in terms of the data privacy challenges, and we can already observe some partnerships between banks and innovative technology providers.
In 2012 Kenya's Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) has partnered with a local mobile firm Safaricom to launch a mobile platform enabling users to borrow and save their money on their mobile phones. As a result of the service, CBA had processed an average of 50,000 loans per day making it the largest bank in Kenya by customer numbers in nearly three years.
CBA decided to further use the mobile technology to disrupt the health industry and teamed up with Hello Doctor Kenya bringing mobile medical consultation services to more than 30 million Kenyans. CBA’s customers receive their own health account where they not only get a 24/7 access to a doctor for medical consultation but can also access instant loans from the bank and save money for medical expenses. Who are amongst the services’ customers? People with higher incomes, because of the service’s convenience and people with lower incomes as they can now afford the treatment thanks to granted loans.
Most recently, Transact Bank (former Colorado National Bank) has also invested in telehealth by partnering with Hopdoc, a telemedicine platform. Apart from enabling their customers to use a telehealth solution, the bank is also looking to expand its services for payment processing in e-health sector.
Missing out on health
Another area which could benefit from investment into healthcare, and also could use some strengthening these days, is bank’s loyalty programmes. Some banks already reward customers for their ‘healthy’ choices, giving discounts on flights, gym fees and for buying healthy food. Why wouldn’t banks take it to another level by simply equipping their customers with telemedicine services and e-healthcare solutions as part of the loyalty scheme or premium banking? The travel industry and the services sector were badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic; as a result, some of the perks and rewards from bank’s loyalty programmes are not even redeemable. As much as we hope that the pandemic will be over soon, the given circumstances are providing banks with the unique opportunity to be flexible and adjust to the very current needs of their customers.
‘Health is Wealth’ is an old saying. It seems as though the banks who tap only into the traditional ‘wealth’ aspect are missing out on the ‘health’ part, and it is the right time to become involved in the customer’s healthcare as it will pay off. The bank of tomorrow should strive to build an ecosystem for their customers, offering a wide range of services that are personalized for a given customer and an individual patient. Such approach will not only be an additional form of care for banks’ customers, but it will also allow for increased interactions and engagement leading to both, stronger customer satisfaction and higher revenues.
Monika Olszówka is business development manager at Comarch
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