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Making Sense of Life Insurance & Automated Digital Health Data

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What You Need to Know

  • COVID-19 made getting paper records from doctor's offices harder than ever.
  • The amount of data in an electronic health record is huge.
  • Software can turn confusing data mountains into useful summaries.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the opportunity to provide better access to clinical data to help life insurance agents deliver faster, more accurate underwriting and pricing to applicants.

Historically, when life insurance applicants provide access to their medical information for underwriting purposes, the process is slow, manual and paper-based. But the COVID-19 pandemic magnified the difficulties of collecting physical medical records from doctor’s offices and through intrusive home visits and spurred the industry toward digitizing and advancing underwriting practice using an applicant’s electronic medical record data.

Access to more comprehensive and detailed clinical data enables underwriters to accelerate the time from application to issue, which reduces costs and creates a fairer and more equitable underwriting process for all — ultimately making life insurance more accessible.

However, as life insurers are increasingly seeking and gaining access to applicant electronic health record data, they are encountering difficulties with the sheer size and complexity of clinical data recorded in patients’ electronic health records (EHRs).

For example, in the U.S. alone, there are 1 billion health care encounters each year and more than 1 million different medical codes tracked by hundreds of different vendors in different ways. The result for life insurance agents is inconsistent, redundant and disorganized data that cannot be reliably used in the application process.

A Cure for Health Care Data Disorder

To improve the applicant’s experience, life insurance agents need the ability to derive more value from the use of clinical health data. Through advancements in health information technology, the problem of health care data disorder is becoming a thing of the past.

Emerging technology uses data refinement and optimization to normalize, enrich and intelligently summarize clinical health data to provide a consolidated, longitudinal view of a patient to customers.

This improved health data is powerful but is made indispensable when combined with a life insurer’s expertise and risk advisors who inform insurers what to do with the data and how to best use it.

Risk advisors leverage the health data optimized and transformed by health IT and turn it into a usable data asset that makes underwriting and risk assessment more efficient and effective.

What’s in it for the broker or agent? Better customer service, improved risk assessment, more accurate pricing, accelerated underwriting and enhanced profitability.

Often agents must request that potential customers complete written documentation or online forms that gather data that must then be delivered to underwriters to provide a quote. This creates delays in the process that not only irritates potential customers, but also puts agents at risk of losing customers due to delays and frustration.

By unlocking the power of electronic clinical data, consumers can leverage their existing medical records and enjoy a faster, simpler application process.

The Future of Clinical Data for Life Insurance

For life insurance agents, having an automated seamless process that gathers and summarizes patient clinical data and organizes it into a consistent usable form in a matter of seconds reduces delays and alleviates consumer frustration.

The convergence and partnerships between health technology and life insurers introduces a scalable, accelerated underwriting solution that enables life insurers to obtain real-time access to clean, reliable and accurate clinical data, enabling them to process applications faster and with greater precision.

As the quality of clinical data incorporated into the underwriting process improves, the task of assessing risk becomes more accurate and reliable. The result will be a truly future-ready underwriting process that is faster, smarter and better for agents and consumers due to simpler, more intuitive and automated processes.


Fountain pen (Image: iStock)Ashley-Kay F. Basile, Ph.D. is the vice president of strategy at Diameter Health, a fast-growing leader in health data interoperability and optimization.  

(Photo: Blue Planet Studio/Shutterstock)