Insur Tech

Malaysia Insurtech Ecosystem

Written by Christopher Khoo Teng Soo on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

With the growth of digitalization and enhance usage of fintech in our daily life, such instances also involved the introduction of digital insurance technology (insurtech). The insurance ecosystem in Malaysia has always been dominated and overshadowed by agency model and local agent-centric insurance landscape. As such, such consequence contributed to the lacked in innovation and modernisation but nevertheless, the insurance industry is shifting rapidly, with 2021 and 2022 witnessing some of the biggest shifts in recent years accelerated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

As it is overshadowed by agency model and local agent-centric, sales and marketing are therefore overseen by each individual agency while underwriting and claims processing are managed by insurance company themselves where such practices are highly inefficient and bound to be replaced by A.I, big data, and machine learning technology. In time to come, insurance premiums could be appraised based on big data and predictive analytics while sales and marketing are bound to be replaced by interactive aggregators platforms. As the present Covid-19 impacts daily activities, physical distancing and other quarantine measures have altered activities previously considered critical to have in person to digital and remote channels which affect insurance distribution.

As the world circumnavigated the pandemic, particularly in health and safety, more people are questioning about life and health insurance protection while demanding better personalized digital solutions. The digitalisation trend that has been progressively expanding ground in the centuries-old insurance industry also triggered incumbent insurers to work more closely with insurance technology (insurtech) start-ups.

Malaysia insurtech ecosystem focuses on underwriting, predictive analytics, insurance carriers and peer-to-peer which provides great opportunity for start-up to venture into the ecosystem and the government had made efforts to push innovative bounds within the fintech industry with the introduction of various digital initiative.

Additional difficulty which arises include the slow and lagging rate of technology adoption and implementation in the insurance processing and management steps. The soaring cost associated with insurance policy concurrently contributed to the arising difficulties as Malaysia total population comprises majority bottom 40 (B40) group and middle 40 (M40).

Source: Life Insurance Association of Malaysia, 2022

Insurance company in Malaysia are expected take measures to deal with impacts of Covid-19 shifting employees to remote setup and developing online customer service channels. Currently, insurers are focused on the next set of challenges, including how to reconceptualize distribution in a more remote world while technology, in the form of automation and personalisation, subjugated the insurance landscape, encouraging insurtech players to further diversify their products and services, and compelling incumbent insurance companies to adapt to technological advancements.

These companies in Malaysia were persuaded and encourage to work with insurtech companies as there were clear prospects to drive collaborations as well as more revenue channels. This has inadvertently and unintentionally created up more opportunities for insurtech players to collaborate simultaneously to ­co-create and develop products.

Digitalisation and personalization the way forward

In the current digital age environment, insurance companies in Malaysia are seeing a consumer shift towards easy-to-use and convenient interactive digital platforms which is further accelerated by the pandemic that forces companies in adapting such measure. Concurrently, with the rise of personalization and customization, policy holders in Malaysia are expecting companies to offer various needs and demands.  

Digitalisation enables the removal of obstacles of time and space, spurred by the pandemic and doing so helps increases higher engagement. Which in turn increase convenient and efficient that makes the process seamless and secure. Instantaneously, introduction of new services such as telemedicine services, Pay-per-use, and bite-sized insurance (microinsurance)

Source: Digital News Asia, 2022

Due to lower cost in infrastructure and cloud implementation in Malaysia, connecting to the cloud-based external ecosystem becomes simpler guided by artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), highly customizable and personalized solution can be tailor suit to individual policy holder.

Moving forward, Malaysia’s insurtech ecosystem could be foster to greater heights based on the improvement of digital banking services for the underserved, better emphasis on financial inclusivity for the B40 community, more cloud-based solutions, improved collaboration between insurtech and incumbents and progress of digital insurance licenses

Med/Health Tech

Digital Health Care – Fast Forwarded

Written by Vinita Sethi on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

Far too much illness and uncertainty, and far too many disruptions have characterised the Covid-19 pandemic.  With the onset of new waves of infection and emergence of variants, we are confronted with the same question repeatedly – what’s the future of ‘brick & mortar’ healthcare delivery system, and how will we ensure the resilience of healthcare systems?

Each time we have been hit by a new wave or by reinfections, there has been a pause on visits to hospitals, elective surgeries get postponed and even routine vaccination schedules get thrown out of the window. All steps and interventions towards preventive healthcare or chronic disease management are first to be displaced or put on a backburner.

The only silver lining in all this, is the seamless healthcare provided through digital healthcare tools. The pandemic has compressed digital transformation timelines in healthcare to 6-12 months, from earlier estimated 4-5 years.

India has emerged as one of the biggest adopters of digital healthcare– nearly 80 % rise in consumption of digital healthcare services after Covid-19. Aarogya Setu & Cowin have achieved global recognition for contact tracing and streamlining digitalized vaccination processes for our 1.3 billion population. Start-ups and innovations that emerged during the pandemic, be it personal wearables, 24*7 tele-medicine, robotics and 3D printing, or process automations, AI(Artificial Intelligence) & ML(Machine Learning) based predictive tools, all have put digital on a fast track and are transforming healthcare like never before.

There is no turning back, as digital healthcare has improved healthcare outcomes, processes and is building more equity. Covid-19 has given us a moment to rethink healthcare in ways that will help us reach those whose needs and access issues were not being catered to earlier. India’s 900 mn active internet users by 2025, rising tele-density and increasing smartphone base, augurs well for digital healthcare apps and tools. This in turn should lead to more value based, equitable healthcare.

Here is an illustration on how value-based care will get a boost through digital health care modules. India has approx. 77mn people, who are diagnosed with diabetes. This has made India, the diabetes capital of the world. Usually the focus is on episodic acre and it is the patient who visits the doctor with an issue. Digital healthcare is transforming these mechanics and design of healthcare delivery. Diabetes focused apps can connect patients with doctors, give them regular reminders for medicine compliance, updates such as dietary or exercise counselling, at low cost and across geographies. This implementation of continuum of enhances patient experience and standardises outcomes, cost of care, and treatment delivery through a collaborative chain of activities.

This is particularly beneficial to those living in remote or rural parts of our country, where the doctor-patient ratio is dismally low- often just one doctor per 25,000 population. It is estimated that innovative healthcare solutions like tele-medicine could save India between USD 4-5 bn every year, replace half of in-person outpatient consultations, and reduce the cost by 30% less than equivalent in-person visits. Reduced waiting time, on-demand doctor availability, no infection risks, EMRs availability, have all increased the demand for digital health.

Digital apart from strengthening the iron triangle of cost, quality & access, will go a long way in streamlining the supply side- reduced administrative burden on providers, real time updated registries & repositories of doctors and other healthcare workers, availability of full medical history of the patient to consulting doctors, and better time management for doctors who can spend more time on patients. In the not-so-distant future, a software platform could emerge as the biggest provider of healthcare, creating a smart bed less hospital just as Airbnb has emerged as the biggest hotel chain without owning any rooms.

However, for the future of healthcare to be successfully anchored in omni, we need to bridge the digital divide. For instance, 47% of global population is not using the internet, & the cost of available broadband exceeds affordability targets in 50% of developed countries. Similarly, in lower income economies, only 32% of population has basic digital skills.

We need to address these underlying issues of lack of skills, connectivity, affordability and accessibility. Multi-stakeholder participation is the way out, along with upskilling healthcare professionals in digital tools, sustaining investments, and providing conducive policy support. Initiatives such as the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)  are timely and will provide necessary support for integration of digital health infrastructure in the country.

What stands out most in digital health ecosystem, is that it empowers the patient, who can now make informed decisions about treatments basis medical history, lifestyle preferences and other factors. It offers immense opportunities to integrate continuum of care with insurance and pharma, and thus reduce drops offs in patients’ funnels from diagnosis to treatment. Providing digital health access and tools to all could go a long way in accelerating our mission towards achieving Universal Health Care, that leaves no one behind.