Digital health & insurance: perfect partners?

The BMA is claiming at their annual conference today that GPs are struggling with workload. Once upon a time, everyone thought digital health alone was one answer to reduce that workload. However until we have better algorithms to sort the signal from the noise, many doctors claim that more data is contributing to the problem rather than solving it. So how to get patients to use digital health data to take more responsibility for their own health? In technical terms, how to raise their patient activation measure (PAM)?

One way of improving the effectiveness of digital health might therefore be to add incentives to become more activated; insurance could provide such an incentive. The Royal Society of Medicine has therefore put together, as a ‘first’, an event on 1st June to explore this combination (disclosure: organised by this editor).

The speakers have been chosen to cover the full spectrum of participants in this field. Beginning with the software, Caty Ebel Bitoun from the Netherlands will describe software she builds to support health insurers, and Justin Lawler from We Savvy in Ireland will describe how that software can be configured to deliver maximum benefit.

Guy Gross will explain how careful segmentation of insured populations by PAMs can substantially reduce claims costs, and how raising PAM level can reduce them further. Catherine Chronaki from HL7 will show how adoption of the international patient summary will enable better risk assessment. Peter Ohnemus will take that further to describe the personal Healthscore concept. Jorgen Sandig of Scyfer will describe how to use pattern recognition to identify potential fraudulent insurance claims, and Stephen Armstrong, a freelance journalist who writes for the BMJ and Wired will consider whether a new ethical standard is needed for digital medicine in this context.

Bringing it all together, Doug Wright from Aviva in the UK will explain how insurers are currently using digital health. Looking further afield, Sajid Rahman from Telenor will describe how his Norwegian company is successfully providing insurance-based digital health in Bangladesh, and Joanna Nurse from the Commonwealth institute will explain how insurance backed digital health can deliver the UN’s Universal Health Commitment (UHC). Jonathan Hughes from RGA will describe how wellness, digital health and insurance are linked in the US.

Finally, in the expectation that there will be some interesting learning from the animal world, Andrew Novell will describe how his PitPat activity tracker for dogs enables a huge reduction in pet insurance costs in exchange for proof of activity.

By the end of the one day conference, we expect delegates to understand how digital health and insurance can work together to deliver new business models that can provide an incentive for people to look after their own health and just may therefore, in future, transform the way health is delivered in the world. Book here.

Categories: Events and Latest News.


  1. More and more insurance companies are accepting telehealth services. Within the next several years, in my opinion, all insurance companies will view telehealth/telemedicine as a viable and acceptable form of treatment for their customers.