Tag Archives: nhs

New Health Metrics in Life Insurance

A new measure of fitness and health, called Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI), has important implications for both life insurers and their policyholders.

It’s now possible to predict, using new technology, the chances that consumers of all ages will develop heart disease. Even better, if the data from the new technology shows improvement, there is also an opportunity to reduce the potential health risk.

Digital technology applications offer life insurers the chance to engage customers with personalized health data that is both easy to provide and simple to understand. And, of course, this is a win for life insurers, too – customers with personalized health data receive more value from the relationship. After all, enabling healthier, longer lives means a longer lifetime value to the benefit of the policyholder and the insurer.

The secret to personalized health data

There is a secret to this personalized health data, and it is based on cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). CRF is one of the best predictors of health and mortality, with a direct correlation between cardiorespiratory fitness and lifestyle diseases.

Until now, CRF has been the missing link to quantify the level of physical activity required to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases. In England, healthcare costs related to physical inactivity are five times more than smoking, and in the U.S. $117 billion health care expenditures per year were associated with inadequate levels of physical activity.

Health data analytic companies, such as PAI Health, offer solutions to make CRF data accessible and relevant to insurers and consumers alike. Customers’ activity levels and CRF data are tracked using a personalized baseline risk assessment. Dynamic, real-time risk monitoring improves customer engagement and reduces risk. Insurers are therefore able to determine the level of risk and understand the health profile for individual customers.

Shifting the conversation from payer to partner

Think of how providers currently handle the customer relationship. Once a customer purchases an insurance policy, the communications typically become almost entirely transaction-based, focused on renewals and claims. What if an insurer had access to data insights that assess customers’ health and risk levels dynamically over time? This now opens the door to a personalized health dialogue.

See also: Making Life Insurance Personal  

One of the largest life insurance companies saw this opportunity when it just entered into an agreement to provide its policyholders with wearable digital devices and gain their customers’ health and fitness data. The insurer will offer rate discounts and other incentives to its policyholders, creating a conversation between the company and its customers about fitness and health.

By using CRF metrics and personalized health data, software tools present complicated data in a comprehensible format for the first time. Here is exactly why tracking this valuable CRF data is not only the best approach for insurers, but also is extremely important in the future of health:

  1. It takes the guesswork out of health: Innovations in biometric algorithms help make big data simple enough for anyone to understand. The data that comes from these algorithms is also personalized for anyone of any health level. It offers the chance to meet people where they are, in a more open and understanding environment, to get them started on the path to a longer, healthier life.
  2. It’s educational and accessible: For most customers, the idea of changing their lifestyle can be daunting. CRF metrics can be a conversation starter opening the door to educational content that naturally supports the transition to a healthier lifestyle, making the entire process less intimidating for customers. What’s more – it’s extremely accessible and convenient, because all a customer needs to do is take a minute out of the day and get started via smartphone.
  3. It’s universal and trusted: Health isn’t one size fits all, but the beauty in CRF metrics such as the Personalized Activity Intelligence (PAI) is that they work for customers at any health level and with whatever type of exercise they prefer. And what many customers don’t realize is that they are becoming healthier through daily habits, such as mowing the lawn, washing the car or doing housework. By using an activity metric underpinned by CRF, you are providing customers with data that is trusted by the AHA, NHS and sports science experts as a proven measure of health.
  4. It fits real life: CRF activity metrics take a holistic look at improving activity, rather than looking day by day. This means if a customer misses a day or needs a break, it isn’t the end of the world. The activity prescription provided to the person readjusts and the risk models update, so the person can stay motivated on the journey to his or her best self. Improving CRF is a physiological adaptation that requires continual work, which is exactly what the data molds to.
  5. It doubles as a measure of health: As an insurer, it’s important to know the health levels of individual customers. A simple score tells the insurer and its customers exactly where they are, to achieve optimal health. The information might be incorporated into rates and underwriting.

The time is now to start engaging customers in a dialogue using personalized health metrics that can lower risk and costs, while adding more to the relationship.

See also: This Is Not Your Father’s Life Insurance  

Through this data, insurers and policyholders alike have a new opportunity to advance the way we monitor and act on health, to help customers enjoy happier, longer lives.

A Hospital That Leads World on Transparency

Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health in Britain, recently toured the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. He said the visit was “inspirational” and announced plans to have the British National Health Service (NHS) sign up “heart and soul” to a similar culture of safety and transparency. Hunt wants doctors and nurses in NHS to “say sorry” for mistakes and improve openness among hospitals in disclosing safety events.

I had a similar reaction to my tour of Virginia Mason. The hospital appears impressive—and truly gets impressive results. My nonprofit, the Leapfrog Group, annually takes a cold, hard look at the hospital’s data and named Virginia Mason one of two “top hospitals of the decade” in 2010. Every year, it ranks near the top of our national ratings.

Virginia Mason’s success is rooted in its famous application of the principles of Japanese manufacturing to disrupt how it delivered care, partly at the behest of one of Seattle’s flagship employers, Boeing. There are numerous media stories and a book recounting the culture of innovation Virginia Mason deployed to achieve its great results, so I won’t belabor the point here. But at its essence is Virginia Mason’s unusual approach to transparency. Employees are encouraged to “stop the line” – that is, report when there’s a near miss or error. Just as Toyota assembly workers are encouraged to stop production if they spot an engineering or safety problem, Virginia Mason looks for every opportunity to publicly disclose and closely track performance.

It is not normal for a hospital to clamor for such transparency. Exhibit A: the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, my organization’s free, voluntary national survey that publicly reports performance by hospital on a variety of quality and safety indicators. More than half of U.S. hospitals refuse the invitation of their regional business community to participate in Leapfrog, suggesting that transparency isn’t at the top of their agenda. But for Virginia Mason and an elite group of other hospital systems, not only is the transparency of Leapfrog a welcome feature, but they challenge us to report even more data, faster.

I hope the British health care system takes Virginia Mason’s model and runs with it, but, more than that, I hope the model takes hold here in the U.S. Too many hospitals in the U.S. avoid disclosing their performance instead of welcoming transparency as an opportunity to build trust with the patients in their care.

The movement toward transparency has a long way to go. We do not have publicly disclosed accreditation reports, even though those reports are tickets for hospitals to obtain public funding through Medicare. We do not yet know enough about infection rates, sentinel events, medication errors and outcomes including death rates from many common (or uncommon) procedures. Price transparency is also rare, according to a report by the Catalyst for Payment Reform.

The ultimate example of our tendency toward non-disclosure came last week, when USA Today reported that CMS quietly removed from public disclosure the incidence of certain “never” events, like objects left in after surgery. Experts disagree on the merits of how CMS counts these “never” events, and CMS—no doubt influenced by lobbyists—believes that they aren’t fair to hospitals. Yet, in a culture of transparency, CMS would do the opposite: first err on the side of reporting the “never” events, then let the experts refine the measure over time. Indeed, as the Virginia Mason experience demonstrates, the very act of reporting can accelerate improvement and transformation.

It’s time for the U.S. to ignite its passion for free speech and lead the world in applying it to health care.