The pandemic changed our healthcare behaviors. Planned hospital and doctor visits were reduced while telemedicine, for physical and mental health, increased. As healthcare providers and insurers/payers worked through mass amounts of new data, our health insurance practice was there to help. I have noticed a growing excitement with health insurers around the world exploring these data driven types of capabilities, and I am looking forward to experiencing more of this in my personal life while I help facilitate it in my professional life. Let’s look at some examples.
One of our insurer customers in Africa collected and analyzed data on our platform to quickly focus on their members that were at a higher risk of serious illness from a COVID infection. Since the insurer had limited staff and resources to assist all of their insureds optimally in prevention, they categorized their insureds in segments. These segments were based on risk profiles, and the insurer implemented tailored plans to support each segment. For example, people at high risk for hospitalization upon infection, each received an oxy pulse meter and were asked to either call into a hotline if their measurements were outside of a range, or upload each measurement to a portal. In some cases the device automatically uploaded results and pinged a healthcare provider if the measurements indicated an urgent need.
By using data to identify high risk members and create tailored preventative steps for each of them, mortality was reduced by 60%, per the African health insurer.
Last summer I went camping and contracted poison ivy. Annoying, but no reason to immediately return home, until the rash traveled to my face, very close to my eyes. Not too long ago, my primary care physician would have asked me to come in for diagnosis and treatment. With the advance in telemedicine, I sent her a note on my portal including some photos. After a quick video chat to take a better look, a prescription was waiting for me at the closest pharmacy. It was a fast and painless (except for the itchy rash) process! However, consider all the data collection, merging, analyzing and storing this simple interaction requires; it’s not so simple. Data needs to be stored for treatment, drug interactions and/or allergies, patient records, compliance, pharmacy, payment and insurance purposes. In this scenario, data sources involved my personal information, health information, medical records, insurance information, pharmacy information, location information and a whole range of consent statements in voice, video, email and structured formats. As a patient, it was a positive experience.
Sprinting towards digital healthcare
Since last summer we have received many requests from our health insurer customers about enabling use cases that deliver physical or mental care using digital channels. Examples include:
- online group or individual counseling
- smoker cessation programs
- weight loss support
- condition specific exercise programs
- support groups
These use cases go far beyond video conference calls; they include trackers and sensors to support and track health habits and support portals. These programs require a robust data platform, enabling data lakes and automation that can incorporate different data types and formats, in different sizes, streaming or static. Insurers are looking to make their own choice about on-premise or cloud deployments to make this happen, but excellent security, lineage and transparency is an absolute requirement. We at Cloudera love working with our health insurers on enabling these customer care and experience use cases.
Besides digitalization of use cases that classically were delivered in a non-digital manner, the recent sprint towards digitalization in health has also spurred new use cases. Health trackers, smart watches, phones, t-shirts and other smart clothing, and exercise or medical equipment stream data to healthcare professionals. These devices help us form healthy habits, stick to our training regimes, manage our chronic illnesses, and connect us with urgent or emergency care when needed. I am training for an ultra marathon walking event. During my long hours of training, I have had my Garmin tell me to slow down, start moving, drink water, take a break, dress for the temperature, speed up, and compare my efforts with prior ones. Obviously all of this requires my permission to my health insurer and other providers to use data for specific use cases, and guarantees that this very personal data doesn’t land in the wrong hands.
My device knows me better and lovingly nags me more than my mom used to!
More importantly, a fellow walker used a similar device to alert them of a potential heart issue that required urgent attention. A few weeks later, I overheard a walker’s device alert him that his blood sugar was low and the device asked if he needed to connect with his telehealth service.
These types of experiences make us smarter about our health and help us manage our health better. At the core they require a robust and multi-capability data platform. Learn more about the Cloudera Data Platform and check out more of our Healthcare and Insurance use cases in action.