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‘Yoga Your Way’ to Better WC Results

With the advancement of telehealth and mobile workforces, an exciting concept has emerged to assist employers and employees to take control of their body and provide better quality of life. This new concept is Yoga Your Way.

Yoga popularity has grown tremendously in the past several years, and National Health Interview Survey data conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show increased usage for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments. In 2007, yoga was the seventh most commonly used CAM therapy. There has been a steady rise in the use of yoga since 2017 to treat musculoskeletal conditions; the limiting factors are cost, convenience, timing of class and access to studios.

Derived from the Sanskrit word “yuji,” meaning yoke or union, yoga is an ancient practice that brings together mind and body. Practicing yoga is said to come with many benefits for both mental and physical health. Proven yoga physical benefits are: reduced inflammation, reduced chronic pain, improved flexibility and balance, improved breathing and sleep. Yoga also has psychological benefits of decreasing stress, anxiety and depression.

If there is a work-related injury, yoga is considered self- care, as it can help prevent seeking medical care. It not only leads to better outcomes while helping to eliminate OSHA recordables and workers’ compensation claims, but it is a skill that can increase quality of life and be used to prevent work-related injuries in the future. Yoga, in comparison with spinal manipulation, physical therapy and acupuncture, may be more cost-effective because it can be delivered in a group format and self-administered at home. However, actual cost analysis of yoga interventions is needed.

This literature review suggests that yoga is effective in reducing pain and disability and improving both physical and mental function.

About one-fourth of U.S. adults report low back pain, lasting a whole day or more, with average duration of three to six months. It is the most common cause of limited activity in people below the age of 45, the second-most frequent reason for visits to a physician, the third-most common reason for surgery and the fifth-most common cause of hospital admission in the U.S., according to Spine Journal The majority of individuals with back pain and sciatica recover from an acute episode in four to eight weeks, and 80% to 90% return to work within 12 weeks post-injury. However, 25% to 80% of patients with low back pain experience some form of recurrent back problem in the following year. Among those who suffer from an episode of low back pain, one year later as many as 33% have moderate intensity pain, and 15% may have severe pain.

In other words, there is a huge opportunity for yoga to address.

See also: How to Optimize Healthcare Benefits  

Yoga Your Way is a new concept in a trend to take yoga outside of the studio and allow anyone to practice and integrate the benefits of mind-body interaction. Yoga Your Way can be brought to the worksite and paid for by the employer as a employee health benefit, providing customized yoga videos designed for a person’s ability and needs.

Studies have shown that practicing yoga 15 minutes per day leads to reduced illness and improved mental health. Yoga Your Way incorporates these principles for the  mobile workforce such as the transportation industry as well for a more stationary workforce. Custom programs can range from simple stretching done in a truck (while parked) to exercises for those overseas in a war zone.

Yoga Your Way is not only providing relief from work-related conditions but is a preventive measure to strengthen and increase endurance, overall health and mind/body awareness.

Yoga is not just stretching in a crowded studio. It it is anyone, anywhere and any time.

How AI Can Drive Clinical Insights

In the healthcare industry, the strides from machine learning and artificial intelligence have been exciting. And because the nature of underwriting in healthcare relies so heavily on member information and huge volumes of data, the potential of leveraging AI and machine learning in determining underwriting risk cannot be ignored. What could make the equation for a better risk score even more compelling? The answer lies in clinical member data that has been enhanced with technology and expert clinical analysis, then made into actionable insights.

Group health plan underwriting can be conducted and risk-assessed with medical and pharmacy claims, especially if three years of data are readily available. However, the results begin to get murky when underwriting is applied to groups where claims history is not available. In this case, underwriters use demographics, actuarial tables, prescription transaction history and self-reported data for pricing health plans, understanding that these data sets may have their limitations. There is risk, if you will, of premium being mis-matched to risk – and this can affect profit greatly.

The Benefit of Incorporating Clinical Member Insights

Lab data in aggregate can be an impossibly cumbersome asset because in its raw state there is no standardization. In fact, there is no standard even within the same lab testing organization. It’s why Prognos saw an opportunity and took on the effort of bringing together clinical data sets from numerous lab testing organizations. We standardize large amounts of disparate, fragmented and inconsistent data, then apply AI, machine learning and deep domain expertise at scale to produce meaningful analytics solutions. The insights are tailored to use cases across healthcare and life sciences. In the case of underwriting risk, the opportunity to enhance member insights with their actual clinical history and likely health trajectory cannot be overstated. It’s a change well worth exploring to improve risk accuracy and better match risk to premium pricing.

How Clinical Lab Insights Are Predictive

The Society of Actuaries reported that, “as healthcare costs have continued to escalate over the past decades, tools that can be used to predict, explain or understand these costs have become correspondingly more important.”

This brings us back to the notion that AI-driven insights can greatly enhance and streamline analytics while also offering predictive capacity. Incorporating analytics-ready clinical member data can: 

  • Eliminate the need for simplistic linear regressions and average-driven cost allocations 
  • Account for non-obvious, non-linear intersections and insights (geographies, comorbidities, disease state progressions)
  • Incorporate more recent, definitive facts about individuals’ health status as well as a thorough retrospective view to better predict state of health and trajectory

As we standardize and enrich clinical diagnostic data,  we’ve also identified the opportunity to support underwriting by predicting group risk. We’ve developed a secure and cloud-based Underwriting Risk Predictor solution being tested by some of the top five payers to more accurately price group health plans without prior claims history. After we receive a de-identified employer census, we match it to our clinical registry of more than 250 million lives. Predictive analytics can be applied again to produce a mid-year risk score prediction for each group and per-member-per-month cost. 

See also: Untapped Potential of Artificial Intelligence  

You focus on producing the most accurate risk assessment to deliver a profitable bottom line and to drive better outcomes for your members. AI can provide a predictive solution that may propel your efforts and deliver measurable ROI.

Skills Needed for Modernization?

One of the happiest, most inspiring headlines I’ve seen in recent months read – “Nationwide announces five-year, $160M Future of Work investment.” Finally, an insurer was putting a stake in the ground, announcing a major commitment to address a looming and significant reality – the nature of work is changing. The article addressed the “how” of the initiative with phrases such as “reskill and upskill,” “future-ready skills” and “technology-enabled.”

A recent SMA research report, 2020 Strategic Initiatives: P&C Personal Lines, shows that personal lines insurers are strategizing and deploying around transformative technologies such as AI/ML, IoT and blockchain. Success is not going to happen without the supporting skills, so there is a clear need that must be addressed. Nationwide is stepping up, and that is very important.

But there’s another angle to this. It’s not just about technology skills training. It’s also about restructuring the workforce. If one believes that it’s all about the technology – technology for technology’s sake – then going about skill training alone is just fine. But I have met very few people who believe that – including at Nationwide, as explained in press releases and articles. Given the enormity of the changes in motion related to customer and agent expectations and digital transformation, technology skills alone will not suffice. Personal lines organizations need to look at their business structures from an outside-in, consumer perspective, as well as traditional inside-out, operational perspective, and then reimagine business units and operational outcomes.

Make no mistake; this is very hard to do. SMA survey results show that 23% of personal lines insurers are not addressing the structure of their workforce at all. The percentage of insurers that are strategizing around this topic has stayed relatively the same for several years – again confirming that it is very difficult to move beyond tradition and culture and view the organization through a new lens. One of the things that makes this challenging is that the industry has historically reorganized itself around the goal of ROI, i.e., put in a new system and offset the cost through staff reductions. Unfortunately, this generally results in shuffling and redistributing work to remaining staff for quick pay-back versus actually realigning and reimagining processes.

See also: Emerging Technology in Personal Lines  

Many personal lines insurers are in the enviable position of having newly modernized core systems, and opportunities for operational efficiency abound in this environment. But modern core systems are also a launchpad for workforce modernization. Paper-based workflow walls can come down and claims organizations can reorganize around improving service. Underwriting and product development can unify around insight-driven new market opportunities with personalized coverages and services, and actually deliver in weeks versus months and years. Most importantly, reskilled and technology-empowered employees can focus on complex business needs and not waste valuable time on ticking workflow boxes. While it may seem like an over-worked topic, the retiring baby boomers are creating an urgency around workforce restructuring. There has been a long ramp-up to the tidal wave of retiring skill sets, but the moment is at hand. And there is no time to waste.

The new workers entering the workforce will not sit in the same seats as those who are leaving. Fortunately, that is not necessary if personal lines executives take the opportunity to align customer and digital strategies with transformational technology adoption in innovative new ways within organizations that are structured for the new reality of continuing change. Every insurer will have a different price tag to achieve this state, but it will be money well spent!   

Bold Prediction on Customer Experience

If there’s one thing management gurus like to do early in a year, it’s make predictions – and customer experience (CX) experts are no different.

But business predictions are like weather forecasts. Everybody consumes them, but rarely does anybody look back to check their accuracy.

Back in 2014, for example, 89% of companies surveyed predicted that – within two years – they’d be competing mostly on the basis of customer experience (Gartner). Yet, here we are five years after that prediction, and there’s widespread stagnation in customer experience quality (Forrester Research). Overall U.S. customer satisfaction is at the same level it was a decade ago (American Customer Satisfaction Index).

In study after study, companies say they’re going to increase their focus on customer experience. At the same time, CX gurus issue rosy annual prognostications about how that enhanced focus will manifest itself – such as in these examples, culled from prediction lists over the past couple years:

  • Companies will create more customer-centric cultures, using new recognition systems and training programs.
  • Companies will use technology to digitally transform the customer experience.
  • Companies will go the extra mile by empowering their employees to surprise and delight.
  • Companies will use robotic process automation to speed customer transactions.
  • Companies will leverage AI to automate customer interactions without making them feel mechanical.
  • Companies will break down silos and align customer experience strategies across functional domains.
  • Companies will use predictive analytics to create more personalized customer experience.
  • Companies will overhaul their voice-of-the-customer programs, relying more on text analytics of unstructured content, such as survey comments, call center recordings, social media conversations and online chat sessions.

However, despite all the expert predictions, despite all the pledges to focus on CX, the needle has not moved much for many companies. The disparity can’t just be attributed to heightened customer expectations, as even objective measures of CX maturity indicate that the vast majority of organizations lag in this regard (so much for that increased focus).

The problem is that many companies pay lip service to customer experience, pursuing it to create good annual report copy, rather than to drive fundamental changes in how they do business. When push comes to shove, CX initiatives are often subordinated to other priorities and starved for funding, according to the Qualtrics “State of Customer Experience Management” report.

That’s an unfortunate outcome, given the compelling evidence available that illustrates the ROI of a great customer experience (as well as the penalties exacted for a poor one). 

See also: The Best Boost to Customer Experience  

This is the reality in today’s business world, though, which is why there’s one bold customer experience prediction that actually has a high probability of coming true this year. That prediction is simply this: Not much will change.

Most organizations will lumber along, spinning their wheels on customer experience, discussing it endlessly, executing on minor improvements that amount to corporate window dressing, just so someone can “check the box” on their next performance review.

Most organizations will continue their navel-gazing, focusing inward on structural changes, role shifts, political infighting and inter-silo strife.

Most organizations will lose whatever little momentum they may have gained around customer experience improvement, as top executives with “Organizational Attention Deficit Disorder” spot some shiny new object that becomes the next initiative du jour.

Granted, this is quite a pessimistic outlook. But the fact is, most organizations are unremarkable, and are destined to stay that way. That’s precisely why, when a company actually does break from the pack and deliver a differentiated customer experience, it turns heads.

So, rather than obsess over what everyone else will be doing (or what the CX gurus say everyone else will be doing), focus instead on what your company can do to avoid the fate of mediocrity.

See also: How Fine Print Ruins Customer Experience  

Think about how to send a clear, unmistakable signal to the marketplace — and your workplace — that something fundamental is changing. 

A signal that you’re no longer going to do it “like we’ve always done.” 

A signal that you’re disrupting the status quo in your industry. 

A signal that you’re liberating customers from long-simmering frustrations.

A signal that you’re dispensing with the typical CX platitudes, in favor of very tangible and compelling changes that will make a difference in the lives of your customers and the employees who serve them.

It’s disheartening to say that little will change in the state of most companies’ customer experiences next year. It’s not a fait accompli, though.  If you don’t want your company to be among those validating this bold prediction, well then…  go do something bold!

You can find this article originally published here on Forbes.

IoT: A Breakthrough or Just More Hype?

Many industry executives talk confidently about the opportunities the Internet of Things (Iot) presents, but is it really an exciting opportunity, or is it all hype?

To begin to think about opportunities and threats, a simple operational definition is probably going to help:

The Internet of Things is: Different “things” connected by a network that collect and transmit data; interpret it and then make use of the aggregated information. Those “things” could be everyday items in homes, in workplaces, in vehicles and in public. The technology allows automated responses, as well as remote access and control from around the world.

Some of the many examples of the application of IoT technology:

So, yes, the IoT is a hugely exciting development that creates significant efficiency opportunities for individuals and businesses. As with most new technologies, over the coming years we will see some IoT implementations fail (a few catastrophically). People will become disillusioned. But, over time, there will be more successes, the benefits will start to crystallize and it will be more widely understood.

The application of the technology in the insurance world will also be far-reaching. The IoT will help monitor, detect and control risks. It will allow early intervention in the event of a loss, potentially mitigating further losses, while providing valuable evidence of what has actually happened. However, the increased embeddedness of IoT also exposes new risks: A fault in the hardware, software or firmware of a device could lead to a catastrophic loss — imagine heart rate monitors switching off, vehicles disabled midway through journeys, ovens turned on when premises are empty.

Insurers must adapt or may become irrelevant

Many insurance executives find the subject stimulating but a little abstract when it comes to changing the way we do business. The impact will most likely be significant (either positively or negatively) whether we embrace the possibilities or wait until we need to deal with the fallout.

There are plenty of estimates on the future number of IoT devices, some more speculative than others, but there appears to be consensus for somewhere in the region of 26 billion by 2020, and growing fast over the following few years. The insurance industry is, therefore, facing an involuntary paradigm shift as clients implement IoT ecosystems in their homes and businesses.

Client needs and the very nature of the risks they face will be changing. Insurers and reinsurers can either be part of the journey that their clients are taking or try to catch up with the new paradigm once the world has changed. With or without an insurer in the equation, these changes will fundamentally alter the insurance products that clients need. Insurers that are prepared for these shifts, working with their clients to design appropriate solutions, will be the winners.

Probably the best-known IoT deployment in insurance is telematics in auto insurance, but new examples are appearing all the time, such as the adoption rate of water sensors to detect leaks or the recent partnership between Lloyd’s of London and Parsyl that places IoT sensors alongside sensitive marine cargo (to monitor temperature-controlled foods, pharmaceuticals or high-tech products).

Even the most advanced businesses can get it wrong, though. It is worth considering how two of the largest technology companies have approached the integration of IoT. Apple and Amazon both sought to capitalize on IoT to capture the home assistant market. Probably the most important factor determining their relative success has been their ability to interact with the wider smart home ecosystem. One of the companies employed “compatibility strategy” that favored compatibility with its own IoT products, while the other was quick to ensure its product would work with just about every smart gadget in the home through its “distribution strategy”…. We will leave to you to judge which strategy was more effective!

The lesson: Those who stick to a closed ecosystem of products that don’t interact with others are going to lose out to those who provide integration with added-value services that go beyond their core offering.

See also: Global Trend Map No. 7: Internet of Things  

In insurance, data from IoT devices will unlock wonderful new approaches to underwriting and claims:

  • Live underwriting: An enhanced view of risk through asset performance and usage data. Increased customer engagement, becoming a “risk partner,” not just “risk finance.” Alternative usage-based propositions. Live monitoring of compliance with warranties. Real-time coverage adjustments based on changing needs.
  • Smart claims: Improved visibility of loss events and their proximate cause, but also some element of loss prevention as the IoT stops the loss from occurring in the first place. Quicker responses to events and better early loss estimation. Enhanced loss data and insight for risk advisory. New triggers for parametric products. Reduced need for (and cost of) loss adjusting.

But, we also need to think about this from the client perspective. With more data, clients become more sophisticated. They understand more about their risk than we do and can control much of it. Potentially, the IoT devices can independently prevent the loss from occurring at all. So, with less uncertainty, they need less insurance, and premiums could begin to fall. What they choose to buy could be very different. In short, insurers and reinsurers need to think about how products are designed to meet client needs.

Being left behind by more forward-thinking (and maybe new) competitors is a real risk. However, the good news is that it is not too late. Most insurer-led IoT propositions are still in the proof of concept stage. With limited evidence of a loss ratio reduction, it can be difficult to convince clients, or even our own executive teams, to disrupt business as usual for unproven technology pilots. The lessons learned by those insurers and reinsurers that are experimenting with IoT will help them win. Being late to this party is not really a viable option.

Grasping the opportunities of IoT and the Internet of Risk

While the opportunities may be great, and the threats from outside the industry may be very real, insurers still need to be careful to avoid leaving themselves open to unforeseen exposures. As an example, “traditional” cyber products have focused primarily on data breach, but now they must also take account of physical hazards. Security cameras, conference phones, vehicles and industrial machinery can provide a gateway for determined hackers. IoT terrorism is also a potential concern, whereby the manipulation of physical objects could lead to death and destruction. 

Insurers focused on “disconnected assets” need to evolve their thinking and propositions as the economy moves toward IoT. We will see fewer disconnected assets (each requiring less coverage), while there will be far more intangible and connected assets that require protection. 

Insurers will need to service clients holistically: Few clients operate uniquely disconnected, connected or intangible assets. They will look for insurance partners capable of servicing their needs across their balance sheet (or lifestyle). Limited products are currently available to cover IoT-related exposures; thus, it falls to brokers and insurers to innovate and raise awareness (before clients find alternative risk financing solutions). 

Insurers and brokers must look to identify how the IoT is changing their clients’ needs and help them holistically understand and manage the risks inherent in their business or personal life. Opportunities will be found in several places:

1. New clients — e.g. asset-less, sharing and gig economy firms/individuals, challenger banks, new physical-tech firms, blockchain service providers, cloud and data dependent services, etc. 

2. New risks — e.g. cyber coverage, drones, intangible assets, autonomous vehicles, crypto-assets being stolen, instant supply chains and connected cities etc. 

3. New propositions — e.g. new distribution models including players that have never operated in the insurance world but have access to IoT insights, e.g. Amazon, usage- based insurance, parametric covers, partnerships with different organizations etc. 

These will all continue to evolve, so taking a lead means being as advanced as possible in thinking how IoT will change the insurance world and how these new (and evolving) opportunities can be grasped. However, this cannot be a purely academic exercise. There must be a focus on actions that can drive short-term revenues, while creating a sustainable advantage for the longer term.

IoT complexity necessitates collaboration

A multidisciplinary approach is essential, factoring in many views from experts in several areas. When considering how IoT could change what Aon needs to do and how Aon serves its clients, we use expertise from various practice groups across our insurance and reinsurance operations, including the cyber, digital economy and technology practice groups, but also colleagues like Stroz Friedberg, a leader in cybersecurity in today’s digital, connected and regulated business world. 

But it isn’t only about getting insights from within your business: IoT is such a broad, societal mega-trend that anyone who only has a single-dimension perspective would be having a blinkered view (and almost certainly slightly rose-tinted). Aon Inpoint works with several global insurtech accelerators to find companies supporting innovation, while gaining experience in IoT and insurtech more broadly. An example includes an insurtech with which Aon is exploring approaches to quantify IoT-related cyber-physical exposure.  

Aon has also created Aon Digital Monitor, tracking or capturing proprietary insights from activity across the insurance ecosystem, to complement our extensive network of startups, vendors, investors and expert advisers tracking what people are investing in.  

The bottom line is that insurers and reinsurers shouldn’t try an “in house” solution. In an IoT-enabled future, partnering with organizations that have the necessary skills and knowledge is essential – either directly, or through an organization that is set up already with those partnerships.

See also: 12 Issues Inhibiting the Internet of Things