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Health insurance providers must prioritise digital services for super-efficient post-COVID-19 world

Health insurance providers must prioritise digital services for super-efficient post-COVID-19 world


Georges Chidiac, EVP and General Manager of Damana

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on every industrial sector as businesses and societies worldwide grapple with an ever-evolving situation. While some industries will be looking to embark on a recovery in the short-term, the COVID-19 impact on the healthcare sector will be long-lasting.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, the healthcare industry has been burdened by increased costs related to capacity planning and an escalated attention on infection prevention and control (IPC) in hospitals and clinics, which focuses on preventing harm caused by infections to patients and health workers. It is inevitable that once the pandemic begins to abate there will be a spike in deferred elective treatments and surgeries. Higher costs lead to increased premiums and now more than ever the pressure is on insurers to boost efficiency for improved competitiveness.

The solution, as we see it, is relatively straight forward. Quite simply, digitalisation is the answer to improved efficiency. Digital transformation has been the rallying call however, COVID-19 has expedited the necessity to embrace digital technologies, with the emergence of work from home initiatives, online meetings, and the need to review documents digitally.

Recent industry-wide surveys have shown that consumers are resoundingly looking for online solutions. This is where insurers must be agile to modernise their systems and improve efficiency. Moving the insurance industry into the digital sphere provides consumers with transparency, speed of application and even claim submissions, with the added advantage of being able to track procedures and claims efficiently. Demonstrating that you are up to date with industry trends and competent in digital solutions will ultimately help attract new clients, retain existing relationships and continue to meet heightened customer expectations.

Digitalisation cannot be piecemeal; It must be encouraged across all operating models, business processes and customer engagement systems to ensure longevity in the market. With the implementation of new technologies such as AI and machine learning, the industry, and consumers will be better informed, knowledge transfer will be greater allowing for more effective, data-driven decision-making. It will bring us closer to our customers, with deep insight into their needs in the palm of our hands. With detailed information on consumers’ health and lifestyle habits, insurer can truly excel in servicing clients, by better tailoring products, efficiently adjudicating health claims and positively impacting premium structures and affordability

The future of health insurance is more individually tailored products and aligns with the goals of governments across the GCC to embrace digital transformation for diversified, knowledge-based economies.

As a leading GCC insurer, Damana has championed digital transformation, with dedicated online platforms, its in-house state of the art claims management system and mobile application for its SAICOHEALTH members and care providers. By streamlining healthcare service delivery and opening real-time communication between members and the SAICOHEALTH team, the overall customer journey is enhanced.

To eliminate human error and improve efficiency in customer processes, the Members Portal and SAICOHEALTH Connect have been tailored to automate claims and approval requests, allowing members to submit and track their claims as well as view policy benefits and available medical facilities included in the network. In the first phase, the members’ mobile application, which provides users access to more than 3,750 providers across SAICOHEALTH’s network has achieved an 89% user engagement rate.

The Providers Portal meanwhile, can verify members’ eligibility for treatment, track current pre-authorizations and claims. Additionally, SAICOHEALTH Connect can support future enablement of smart wearables and internet of things for an engaging healthcare gamification experience.

The power of digitalisation certainly came to the industry fore when offices were closed during  COVID-19 prevention lockdowns. Digital solutions have ensured business continuity when people were unable to meet face-to-face. One of the safest and best ways to optimise the health insurance sector moving forwards is for everyone to maintain the social responsibility that COVID-19 has taught us. Adhere to health and safety protocols, wear a mask, practice regular handwashing and sanitising and social distancing and maintain social distancing. Together we can guard against not only COVID-19 but other airborne diseases, which will ultimately ease the strain on healthcare worldwide.

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