At Pegaworld this week, Dr. Mark Boxer, Global CIO at Cigna Insurance, delivered a powerful keynote address on the evolution of healthcare and the supporting technology in the United States. While acknowledging a range of challenges in the healthcare system today, he likened this to the opening lines from “A Tale of Two Cities”: it is The Best of Time and The Worst of Times, concurrently. The Best of Times component is characterized by the flood of new technology which is fundamentally allowing them to create and participate in a digital ecosystem that is like nothing we have ever seen before. The implications for other forms of insurance, including life carriers, are significant. The competitive game is about to get a whole lot more interesting.
The use of wearable technologies and related devices are anticipated to create a range of new connection points between customers and the carrier which allow for a far more interactive form of engagement. Through the use of these capabilities, Dr. Boxer talked about the transition from “sickness care” to “wellness care”, which allow them to refine how healthcare is integrated into consumer lives while making the process interactive. Monitoring of issues (e.g., diabetes, activity levels, etc.) is allowing them to create a lower cost model that has better outcomes. That’s a significant result that offers the promise of fundamentally re-architecting the nature of the relationship with their customers.
He also noted that their approach to client engagement starts at the point of “enrollment”. And, of course, this is the exact same enrollment process that Group Life carriers are participating in to gain mind, and wallet-share, from plan members. And therein lies a potentially significant challenge for traditional Group (and Individual) insurance carriers.
As we watch the transition from Group to Voluntary Benefits emerge, concurrently with demographic shifts that alter the face of tomorrow’s customer, there’s a clear wakeup call that is warranted. While many carriers continue to incrementally address issues related to aging technical environments in fairly traditional ways, considering like-structured companies as the future state competition, there are new threats that are emerging quickly. The Cigna depiction of how they anticipate weaving themselves into the daily lives of customers, where they are both receiving and sending information that is value added in both directions, is instructive. And, of course, armed with all the data and the digital relationship, the potential to cross sell other things to health insurance customers seems intuitively obvious. Being able to extend from traditional health coverages into other forms of coverage (e.g., life, disability, critical illness, etc.) seems a relatively modest extension of capabilities.
Which means that Group / Individual Life carriers, who anticipate that the voluntary benefits market will be a future state growth engine, may suddenly find themselves facing off against an unexpected … and unexpectedly well prepared … foe. The Internet of Things isn’t a theoretical construct or something that might impact insurance some day. It’s coming faster than many think. This will become very, very interesting!
As a result, the Tail of Two Cities metaphor could have a somewhat different meaning than Dr. Boxer intended. Armed with these capabilities, it could be the Best of Times for well prepared carriers … and the Worst of Times for those who fail to effectively plan for and integrate the “IoT” into their own operational fabric.