Sharing Insights from Behavioural Economics

The main event on the Personal Injury Education Foundation (PIEF) events calendar here in Australia is a national conference held every two years and features an experienced line-up of keynote speakers and industry experts.

The Personal Injury and Disability Management Conference was held at Four Points Sheraton in the beautiful surrounds of Darling Harbour from Wednesday 12 October to Friday 14 October 2016.

In early 2016, PIEF put out a request to the wider industry for potential guest speakers to submit an abstract on one of the following streams of disability management; Mental Health, RTW and Community, Claims and Case Management, Injury and Disability Management and Innovation & Research. Anusha Jayatilake and Nick Mingo of the ANZ Claims Team took up the challenge to submit an abstract and were successful in being selected to present at this hallmark event.

Anusha and Nick shared insights from Behavioural Economics (BE) with their audience….a room full of key decision makers from disability compensation schemes across Australia including employers, insurers, Government representatives, rehab providers, researchers and medical practitioners.

As a reinsurer Swiss Re is in the unique position to see and review claims from different insurers and observe different approaches and templates for writing to doctors, with varying success of response rate and level of useful information with relevance for claims management. Therefore, Swiss Re noticed that the insurers who tend to have a poorer response with their current templates are making assumptions that the GP is highly rational when dealing with Insurers and ask for information in a very 'traditional and formal insurance' format. To overcome this hurdle, Swiss Re explored an alternate and innovative approach to try to increase the response and usefulness of the information and relationship with doctors.

The presentation kicked off with an introduction to the concept of Behavioural Economics, a relatively new field that applies insights from psychology to economics whilst explaining how interactions with others and our mental 'short cuts' (biases) can influence our behaviour.  Anusha and Nick provided some real life examples of common BE short cuts, known as salience, social norms, framing & anchoring.

The presentation dived a little deeper when Anusha and Nick discussed two particular live experiments Swiss Re has conducted applying BE principles to increase the speed of response and accuracy of GPs when completing work capacity certifications and responding to requests for clinic notes requested by insurers.

In a recently launched experiment in the Australian market, Swiss Re is testing a new version of a functional capacity table, including varying the way the options are framed to the GP as well as increasing the relevance (salience) of aspects of work capacity certification.  The results for this experiment will be available in the next few months, although Swiss Re's hypotheses states that the increased salience and framing changes will assist doctors to be more specific in their work capacity certifications thereby increasing return to work opportunities for claimants.

Throughout the presentation Anusha and Nick reminded their audience that disability managers have the responsibility to make things easier for doctors, to help them understand what is expected and to reassure them that as a disability manager, we are also promoting the best interests of their patients.

Anusha and Nick had great feedback following the session and it was fantastic to see a number of other representatives of our life insurance industry, both as speakers at the event and in the audience, indicating the continued growth of life insurance rehabilitation within the wider Australian injury and disability management setting.

Nick is looking forward to delivering a similar presentation at the International Forum on Disability Management in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November.

Published 31 October 2016