Tag Archives: apps

15 Top Apps for Mental Health

For many people, apps are a part of our everyday living – from Uber, to conference schedules, to how we find our restaurants. They can also be part of our resilience toolkit.

When we consider a comprehensive strategy to suicide prevention and mental health promotion, it’s helpful to segment approaches into “upstream” (preventing problems before they emerge through self-help), “midstream” (catching emerging problems early and linking people to least restrictive support) and “downstream” (helping people with more serious mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts) tactics.

Thus, for this article, I have organized some of the most popular, best-researched and most innovative apps into these three categories.

Upstream: Resilience Self-Help Apps

  • Positive Activity Jackpot

Developed by t2health, this app uses the phone’s GPS system to find nearby enjoyable distractions. It comes with a clinician’s guide:

  • Calm

Calm is designed for people new to meditation – starting with guided practices from three to 25 minutes in length and focused on a variety of topics from sleep to gratitude.

  • Breathe to Relax

Another t2health app, Breathe2Relax, offers portable stress management focused on diaphragmatic breathing skill-building that helps with anger management, mood stabilization and anxiety reduction.

  • MoodKit

Based in cognitive behavioral therapy, MoodKit helps people improve their mood by engaging them in over 200 mood-enhancement activities like thought checking and journaling.

  • Pacifica

Pacifica is designed to help people who live with anxiety through soothing meditation and other personalized self-help strategies. Check out the science behind this strategy.

See also: Impact on Mental Health in Work Comp  

Midstream: Early Detection and Peer Support/Life Coach Apps

  • Life Armor

Another t2health app, this brief assessment tool helps users manage emerging symptoms like depression, sleep deprivation and post-traumatic stress. Videos share personal stories from warriors and military family members.

  • DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach

Through this app, users can master the skills of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), known for its effectiveness in regulating emotions and interpersonal relationships. Users remind themselves of skills they are trying to develop and track skill use.

  • TalkLife

Developed by folks at Harvard and MIT, TalkLife is a peer support platform that engages an online community when people just need someone who’s willing to listen. Posting can be done anonymously. Here is some research behind TalkLife.

  • Koko

Also developed by researchers at MIT, this app provides help for people in all states of distress from bullying and harassment, or even thoughts of suicide and self-harm. Koko provides evidence-based supportive interactions with users while referring users in crisis to international lifelines for immediate help.

  • Lantern

Lantern is a subscription service offering daily on-one-one coaching sessions and simple exercises combining cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and advice from real “professional coaches” trained in CBT. Recommended plans are personalized based on the user’s initial self-assessment.

See also: Top 10 Ways to Nurture Mental Health  

Downstream: On-Line Mental Health Services and Suicide Prevention Apps

  • Virtual Hope Box

The original non-app version of the Hope Box was developed as a tool to help therapists in clinical practice work with their suicidal clients so they can find reasons for living. Clients would find something like a shoe box and fill it with future goals, pictures of loved ones, bucket list experiences and the like. When clients felt their suicidal intensity increase, they would bring out the box to remind themselves of these things.

The Virtual Hope Box (VHB) does this and more. Still designed as something to augment treatment, the VHB helps people live through painful emotional experiences through distraction, inspiration, relaxation, coping, support and reasons for living.

  • BetterHelp

BetterHelp is a monthly subscription on-line counseling app that matches people with licensed mental health professionals and gives them unlimited access to these therapists.

  • My3App

My3app is a safety plan tool that helps people who are at high risk for suicide. It helps people develop a written list of coping strategies and sources of support. This app is based on content developed by B. Stanley & G. Brown (2008) and the Department of Veterans Affairs and is owned and maintained by Link2HealthSolutions, the administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline created in partnership with the California Mental Health Services Authority and was funded by the California Mental Health Services Act.

  • MyVAApps — Safety Plan for Veterans

Part of the MyVAApps suite of apps, the Safety Plan app helps users create or co-create with their therapist a safety plan that outlines specific steps to take when they face crises, including connecting to Veterans Crisis Line.

  • SAMHSA — Suicide Safe

This app is designed to help healthcare providers reduce patient suicide risk and is based on the SAFE-T Approach.

I am interested to hear about your experiences with these apps! What else have you used? What do you find to be most helpful in managing your resilience, mental health and emotional crises?

3 Great Apps for Insurance Agents

Insurance agents know that selling insurance is unlike selling anything else. Selling insurance means selling trust, selling promises and selling ideas. As an insurance agent, you know your clients trust your expertise and expect you to have their best interests at heart.

But even the best agents need something to make their jobs easier. That something, a lot of insurance professionals find, can be mobile applications. Here are three that have proven very popular:

1. DocuSign

The insurance industry still relies on a lot of paperwork. And it requires both insurance professionals and clients to sign a lot of documents. This is why the DocuSign app deserves a place on this list. It’s an e-signature app that you can use to sign documents online with your mobile device.

Statistics also show that a large number of insurance companies use e-signatures to sell their products. So, an app that makes this possible ought to be pretty useful for insurance professionals like yourself.

Here are some benefits of this app:

Sign legal documents immediately:  Any online documents can be signed and delivered in minutes instead of days.

Go completely paperless: With this app, you can send documents to be signed any time without having to rely on manual means to do so.

Available for different mobile platforms: The DocuSign app can be downloaded for free on iPad, iPhone, Windows and Android devices.

See also: Will Policies Break Down Into Apps?  

2. Go

For an insurance agent to succeed, he needs to know more than his clients do. In the case of car insurance, this can be information about legalities or current deals that are available for clients based on their current situations.

However, comparing insurance is a hassle that even the most experienced insurance agent want to skip. This is why the Go car insurance app on iTunes deserves a place on this list.

This app can help agents like yourself find the best car insurance for clients in seconds 60 seconds. The best part is that it can help you find packages that can actually save your clients money.

Here are other benefits:

Chat with a seasoned expert: Even insurance agents who go solo need advice from professionals who have been in the industry for a while. With the Go app, you can chat with agents who can give you tips on getting cheaper rates for your clients.

Why you should get it: The Go app was developed for the iPhone 6 Plus, SE, iOS 9 and even the Apple Watch. Reviews rave about the app’s easy-to-use interface.

3. CamScanner

Looking for the right financial packages and drafting agreements sometimes requires insurance agents to pore over countless technical and legal documents. With this app in your smartphone, you can capture images of documents like insurance agreements, policies and any other documents. You can:

Scan on the go: Think of CamScanner like a mini scanner that you can carry around with you and use whenever you come across an interesting document that can help you service your clients.

Convert images to PDF files: To email documents, you have to scan them first. And the whole process becomes incredibly tedious if you have to scan several documents at once or do so countless times.

Just take a picture of the document you want to scan, use auto cropping to remove unused edges and use the auto enhancing feature to make the image sharper. Then convert into a PDF file and share the file with clients or colleagues.

Get crystal-clear documents: The app takes pretty clear and crisp images that don’t blur even when you zoom into them. It has five enhancement modes that you can use to customize your scans and make them look more professional.

With this app, the scanning process is reduced to a few taps on your smartphone. It has options that allow users to send scanned documents via email and social media and to even upload them on third-party cloud services.

See also: 5 Insurance Apps to Download Today  

The proliferation of mobile tools is having a huge impact on business, and these three apps will help.

Use of Cloud Apps Creates Data Leakage

A large U.S. cable television company recently sought to better understand how its employees were using cloud apps to stay productive. Management had an inkling that workers routinely used about a dozen or more cloud file sharing and collaboration apps.

Ed note_CipherCloud_Willy Leichter

An assessment by CipherCloud showed the employees actually were using 204 cloud services that posed a security risk: 78 cloud storage apps and 126 collaboration apps, many of which included file-sharing functions.

Emerging risk: A major concern for the cable company was that sensitive information about customers and employees could leak unnoticed beyond its network perimeter.

Free cloud file storage makes it convenient to share data quickly and widely. The company learned that sensitive files had been moved into folders accessible to people who should not have had access to the information.

Wider implications: Like many organizations, the cable company routinely stores customer transactions data as well as employee healthcare data covered by HIPAA privacy rules. The rising use of free Web apps by employees has created many more opportunities for data leakage and could lead to sanctions and fines – or, worse, an embarrassing, expensive data breach.

The cable company set up sanctioned accounts with a popular cloud storage service-Box-for employees to use. It also has begun examining other steps it can take to impose tighter controls around sensitive company records.

Excerpts are from ThirdCertainty’s interview with Willy Leichter of CipherCloud. (Answers edited for length and clarity.)

3C: Can you outline how the rising use of cloud apps in the workplace is creating security issues?

Leichter: A typical process is one person sends you something from a Dropbox account, and suddenly you become a Dropbox user. Or, often, departments will say, “OK, we’re going to use Dropbox or Hightail for this particular project,” and it kind of grows department by department. It grows virally.

The challenge is the very nature of the whole file-sharing world. It’s like Swiss cheese. It’s designed to be very easy to share and to open up public links and to let another person in.

That’s where this cable company approached us. They had about a dozen different things they knew about and wanted to standardize.

3C: You found a lot more than a dozen cloud apps in use.

Leichter: We found well over 1,000 cloud apps, what we call shadow IT apps, that they were using. We have about 20 different categories of such apps; it could be software development tools, or it could be social tools. In one category, file-sharing tools, we found more than 120 apps. This one category is probably the most actionable category because file sharing involves sending people documents.

3C: How did this discovery help the cable company?

Leichter: They were trying to do two things. They were trying to standardize on two or three different file-sharing services and use monitoring tools on them. And they also wanted to shut down the worst offenders, which you can do easily enough.

3C: In general, what kinds of malicious or worrisome activity are you seeing in shadow IT?

Leichter: It’s kind of a spectrum. Officially sanctioned apps are being scanned in real time, using tools we and others make. That’s kind of a new world. We can give you all kinds of detail about who’s using all these apps. Then there’s the other 90% of the apps in shadow IT.

Anomalies can be where someone is sending huge amounts of files to some strange apps. Or someone is downloading stuff they shouldn’t be at two in the morning. Or it could be multiple people using the same account from different IP addresses. Someone is logging in from San Jose and then an hour later they’re logging in from Beijing. You can spot a lot of these and take steps to shut them down.

3C: What else surprised the cable company?

Leichter: One of the things they learned is why people were doing this. For the most part, it was because the company wouldn’t pay for them to use an account. So they were account hopping from one freebie to the next. It was because people just did not want to pay for stuff.

So now the company is trying to steer people to use better practices through outreach and education. And it also is buying them accounts.

Top 10 InsurTech Predictions for 2016

2015 was the year that InsurTech emerged from the shadow of Fintech. This story has been told through my last 40 research notes published on DailyFintech.com over the past eight months. Including 28 interviews with the CEOs and founders of InsurTechs, this story spans the globe from the U.S. to China, from South Africa to Estonia, and a few stops in between.

So, what does this tell us about the next chapter of this story? Here, I give you my Top 10 InsurTech predictions for 2016.

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In no particular order…

Prediction #1

Insurers will create lifestyle apps that provide additional consumer value on a continuing basis. Continuous consumer engagement will start to replace price as the key buying criterion. The result will be sticky insurance with strong brand loyalty.

Prediction #2

The person-to-person (P2P) insurance business model will struggle to reach scale in its current form. This will drive the P2P insurers to find new ways to replace the traditional carrier model, and we will see signs of a completely new business model for insurance. That will scale.

Prediction #3

Much greater levels of personalized rating will become widely available using new sources of data from technology such as wearables, the Internet of Things and smartphone apps. This will lead to variable premiums over the policy term to encourage better behavior (although insurers will hold back and not introduce corresponding punishments in 2016).

Prediction #4

“All in one policy” cover (aka, all-risks insurance) will emerge for consumer protection. Policyholders will be able to insure their lifestyle (their home, motor, dog, holidays, iPhone, treasures, travel) in a single policy based on highly personalized risk assessment through a digital platform.

Prediction #5

“All in one place” platforms (aka a concierge service) will replace traditional intermediaries with a digital broker. These services will consolidate multiple policies, converge with financial planning tools and provide robo-advice on gaps and duplication in cover.

Prediction #6

New entrants will come into the market with highly sophisticated data modeling and predictive analytics solutions. They will exploit mass-scale technologies, high-performance computing and techniques developed in high-frequency trading.

Prediction #7

Convenience and the ability to digitally turn insurance cover on and off as needed will be steadily accepted and adopted. As will microinsurance, sharing insurance and pay-per-mile. Unit premiums will be higher, but this will be outweighed by Millennial attitudes toward insurance cover and paying a price for convenience.

Prediction #8

The poorest in our world are the ones who need insurance the most. In 2016, the insurance industry will (finally) start to better serve the massively underinsured populations in developing countries. This will be driven by a combination of the massive market opportunity that exists for insurance, global economic forces and a socio-political agenda.

Prediction #9

There will be widespread deployment by traditional insurers of new digital solutions to reduce cost of claims and loss handling. Serving both ends of the insurance workflow, these tech solutions will enable better collection of data and evidence to improve risk rating at the front end and the claims handling processes, especially at first notice of loss (FNOL), at the back.

Prediction #10

2017 will be the year of block chain and insurance. No list of predictions would be complete without reference to block chain, but IMHO it is going to take all of 2016 for the insurance industry to get to grips with what block chain is, what it can really do for insurance and (most important) why we should use block chain as opposed to any other database or enabling technology.

Don’t get me wrong, for I am squarely in the camp that believes “block chain is the next Internet.” And we will continue to see a lot of block chain insurance activity throughout the year. But adoption in insurance won’t take hold until we’ve seen 2016 out.

How to Remove the Roadblock for UBI

Once upon a time, the auto insurance industry relied on motor vehicle reports, drivers’ records, business addresses, financial credit reports, claims histories, policyholder-stated VIN and mileage information, etc. to make an underwriting and rating decision. This scant information provided a fuzzy picture of risk, at best, so insurers built in a pricing cushion to protect against losses and figured it all out at the end of the year.

Fast forward to today, and insurers have volumes of real-world driving data at their fingertips to inform more precise underwriting and pricing. With the proliferation of telematics devices, whether after-market or factory-installed, and mobile tracking and recording apps, we now can know where, when and how an individual vehicle is driven. We can know area and hours of operation, driving behavior, route histories, vehicle performance characteristics and much, much more. We can even re-create collisions using the data.

With data-driven usage-based insurance (UBI), we now can formulate a clear picture of driving risk and remove the guesswork. In short, we have the potential to write for a group of one, based on observable, verifiable data.

Some numbers to consider:

  • Currently nearly 30% of all commercial vehicles have some form of telematics device installed. This figure is expected to reach 70% in 2017. (C.J. Driscoll & Associates)
  • Today’s telematics devices record nearly 300 billion miles of driving data annually.
  • 94% of all small businesses report using smartphones in their businesses. (2014 AT&T-SBE Council Small Business Technology Poll)
  • Approximately 30 auto manufacturers (original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs) are busily equipping vehicles with data devices today.
  • More than 70 telematics service provider (TSP) fleet management services companies in the U.S. are equipping trucks, cars and utility vehicles with telematics.
  • More than half of small fleet managers are likely to stay with their current insurance carriers if their insurer offers UBI (Lexis Nexis’ 2015 Commercial Usage-Based Insurance Study)
  • Global sales of insurance telematics products are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 80% from 2013-2018, and the subscriber base is expected to reach 85.5 million in 2018. (Research & Markets).

We are quickly reaching a tipping point for UBI programs that rely on data collection and analysis as the basis for a “pay how you drive” approach to auto insurance.

However, insurers looking to take advantage of this driving data face some tough questions: Where does all this data come from? How is it collected? How can different data sets be normalized? How can insurers store, analyze and manage such a huge volume of data?

The solution for insurers large and small very likely will be a telematics data clearinghouse.

Multiple Data Sources: OEMs, TSPs, Mobile Apps and More

The first problem insurers face is negotiating with 70 different TSPs and 30 OEMs for their data, which adds complexity, time and expense to the process of acquiring the driving data needed for an effective UBI program. A clearinghouse solves the problem of accessing data on millions of vehicles by aggregating data from available sources. Rather than negotiate with dozens of data suppliers, an insurance carrier merely subscribes to the clearinghouse for access to all of that data, at a single price. 

Multiple Formats: Not All Data Is the Same

With so many data sources, each using different telematics devices and software, pulling data from different types of vehicles, the aggregated data is a jumble of formats, with no two data sets the same. A clearinghouse plays a critical part in scrubbing, authenticating and normalizing this data for handoff to underwriting.

Making Big Data Digestible… One Byte at a Time

UBI represents a monstrously big IT effort for an individual insurer. With nearly 300 billion miles of driving data available, we’re talking about petabytes of data to acquire and analyze. Even the largest insurers must weigh the benefits of devoting precious IT resources to developing and running a complete UBI data collection, storage and analysis effort. In contrast, a clearinghouse is built to manage big data in a big way, delivering a clean, authenticated data set to the insurer, integrated seamlessly into the underwriting process for easy access and use.

Evolution of a Safe-Driving Scoring Standard

With access to data from millions of vehicles, a clearinghouse is also able to provide comparative analytics and calculate a fleet’s safe-driving score, the driving equivalent of a FICO financial credit score and a much more accurate predictor of risk. A complement to current driver score cards offered by many TSPs (which measure individual driving behaviors such as speeding, harsh braking and hard cornering), a fleet score factors in all drivers, as well as the vehicles they drive and the environment in which they drive. The fleet score analyzes variables including weather, time of day, road surface and traffic dynamics. An overall fleet safety score compares fleets of similar SIC codes and territories to derive an indexed score and ranking – a meaningful risk assessment and underwriting tool more powerful than anything else in use today.

Data Privacy and Protection: Permission-Based

Yet another crucial role played by a clearinghouse is data protection and privacy. Clearly, the vehicle owner owns the data generated by that vehicle in the course of a driving trip. But once it is in the UBI transaction chain, how is that data protected? Who sees it, and what is done with it? The clearinghouse serves as gatekeeper. With the consent of the vehicle owner/policyholder, the clearinghouse facilitates the secure sharing of encrypted data with the insurer, allowing the data owner to control who sees the data and why. Such protection encourages voluntary participation by vehicle owners, helping fuel the growth of UBI. 

Data Transparency and Portability: You CAN Take It with You

Data transparency and portability go hand-in-hand with data ownership. As a consent-based data sharing service, the clearinghouse offers complete transparency to the data owner. The vehicle owner knows what data is being requested and has the option of permitting or denying access. The clearinghouse allows the data owner to share his data and driving safety score with multiple insurers.

Data Clearinghouse or Data Exchange: What’s the Difference?

Aggregated driving data services are taking different forms. While all share the purpose of providing a “one-stop” storehouse of driving and vehicle data, they do not all operate in the same manner or provide the same services.

The primary distinction can be explained as an open marketplace vs. a closed system.

As an open market, a clearinghouse merely facilitates the transfer of data from vehicle owner or TSP to insurer. The insurer then underwrites a policy based on this data (and other factors the insurer deems important) and determines a policy premium. In this open system, there are no regulatory filings required; data is used in the insurer’s existing underwriting process, and the insurer retains complete control over pricing, applying credits as warranted. Furthermore, the marketplace determines the value of the data: How much is an insurer willing to pay for detailed trip histories, for example?

In contrast, an exchange uses driving and vehicle data to compute a rating and pricing recommendation for the insurer. Because the exchange is determining price, this rating system must be filed with state regulators. In this closed system, the exchange assumes the role of underwriter and pricing specialist, leaving the insurer with little room for proprietary pricing, segmentation or differentiation. The exchange controls the data and the insurance product.

Data-Driven, UBI: A Return to Profitable Auto Underwriting

UBI offers auto insurance carriers an unprecedented view of vehicle use and driving behavior. Insurers that embrace UBI and develop a data-driven underwriting and ratings process will benefit from more consistent underwriting, improved segmentation and better selection. Those that do not will likely suffer from adverse selection and an underperforming book of business.

The key to successful UBI adoption will be access to, normalization of and correct interpretation of all this data. Undoubtedly, auto insurance carriers will be hearing more about the clearinghouse concept and the pivotal role it plays in UBI.