The last few years has seen a steady rise in the sales and number of wearable devices and health-related applications. Research and advisory firm Gartner estimates that by 2022 close to 453 million units of smart wearable devices will be shipped worldwide. Not just that, 2019 itself will see total spending on such wearable devices of approx. $42 billion, according to their research.
Rapidly growing developments in technology have set the medical and health industry on a digitisation path. The digital health trackers and apps market is projected to reach a mark of US $206 billion by 2020. This has opened up new avenues for insurance firms and their consumers to integrate this new technology for mutually beneficiary cause.
Today’s health market is flooded with different kinds of wearable devices such as smart watches, smart clothing, wristbands, and ear worn devices as well as health apps such as health trackers and fitness coaches. All these gadgets work towards a single important cause – improving the health and fitness of its users.
This new age technology motivates the user to
# walk everyday and enjoy the moment when they achieve their desired target
# jog or run and track it to share and compare it with their friends and fitness buddies,
# eat healthy and rejoice when they are able to make that transition from eating junk food to keeping it off completely,
# sleep well through the night for the recommended number of hours
Customers who invest in their health are valuable assets to every insurance firm. Such customers prepare themselves to make sure they keep as many illnesses and diseases at bay by leading a healthy lifestyle. With the rise in chronic diseases, this is a big factor that can help insurance companies to keep their claim rates lower or at moderate levels.
Smart health apps and wearable trackers can provide critical health related information to insurance companies that they can use to decide customised premium or provide discounts. To benefit from this, insurance companies are turning towards offering various wellness programs to their customers. Such programs are prepared in a way that the customers can easily and effectively work on improving their health and lifestyle eventually profiting both the parties involved.
The use of such technologically-driven applications has reached such a level that IRDAI has acknowledged the fact that wellness in fact does play a role in assessing risk as well as designing insurance products. To further this cause, it has brought together a Working Group comprising of members from IRDAI and some of the top insurance companies in India. This group will be responsible for examining the new technology to understand how it will aid risk assessment, risk improvement and distribution and use of such smart gadgets and apps.
With all that research to back, the top insurance companies in the market can predict that soon enough they can merge or integrate their existing systems with the new technology to create highly effective insurance products. By linking insurance premiums to health scores, generated from data collected from smart gadgets and apps, insurance companies can make better decisions on premium rates. At the same time, customers can work on getting healthier and earn great discounts on their yearly insurance premiums. Some companies already have schemes, which are offering 20-30 % discount on healthy and fitness regime of policyholders.
Smart wearable devices, apps, and trackers have great potential waiting to be utilised, given a right direction they can become the future of healthcare that we have all been waiting for.
The author is the founder and CEO at WatchYourHealth.com