The promise and potential of advanced health analytics

We are accumulating data all the time. On our phones, smart watches, and wearable fitness devices. Life and health insurers have begun to leverage devices as a strategy of engagement with their customers.

Insurers are increasingly asking themselves how they should curate, analyse and process the growing flows of health relevant data coming from their policy-holders.

This was the focal point of discussions at the "Health monitoring in insurance: Unlocking the power of your customers' data" event in Zurich, December 2017. The event brought together actors from across the value chain to discuss what the data flood will mean for insurers.

Data has been a disruptor in many industries, as Robert Wolcott, Kellogg School of Management, reminded the audience; and several industry leaders have been wiped out as a result. Interaction with potential disruptors at a number of levels is the best way to prepare established firms for the change of mentality abundant real time data requires.

Andreas Caduff of wearables company Biovotion, is aware that their future will not just depend on shifting units, but also on providing services. Biovotion has designed an innovative spiral allowing an overview of individual stress, rest and exertion over a given day. Striiv, represented by Dave Wang, is working with insurers and healthcare providers looking at managing specific conditions.

Having data is not necessarily an answer. Actuaries do not believe we are ready to replace manual life underwriting with automation. According to Conrad Wolfram of Wolfram Research humans do not have a good understanding of how to work with data and how computation can complement human processes. Moreover, data can be made to work in other ways. Patrick Bewley of Big Cloud Analytics described how data can be effectively used in consumer engagement; and to provide insurers with a better overview of their risk portfolio. A first step to using an individual's data is ensuring your processes meet privacy regulations. Pryv representatives, Evelina Georgieva and Pierre-Mikael Legris, described how their company works as a data repository and exchange.

Creating effective visuals and interfaces to data can be key to making it work within decision making processes. Tom Vandendooren of Sentiance, explained how anonymously tagged individuals can be graphically represented to see physical activity through data that could be overlaid with spatial and biometric data sets. Hem Patel and Christian Thümer of Signal Noise introduced how they create imagery out of data that is clear, intuitive and thought provoking – as well as almost being works of art in their own right.

Together with workshops focusing on the monitoring of a number of conditions, from diabetes through to cardiovascular disease and mental health conditions, these thought provoking speakers highlighted the challenges we have in gathering life and health relevant data, and in deciding how we use it.

Relevant links

Summary of the Swiss Re Institute's conference on health monitoring in insurance in December 2017. Written by Simon Woodward, Senior Business Development Manager, Swiss Re Institute .