by Begoña San José, Global Head of Health Parnterships & Business Development
Health insurance has long been a key player in the healthcare ecosystem. At the core of private health insurance activities, it is the management of the balance between access, quality and cost of healthcare. ‘Keeping customers as healthy as possible for as long as possible’ is a good summary of what we do. Health has long been defined beyond the absence of disease and it is becoming more and more relevant to protect the customer’s health and adopt healthy lifestyles and health insurance is about protecting people’s health. Protecting one’s health is the sum of many daily decisions affecting our lifestyle, nutrition, sleeping, mental wellbeing, physical activity, all add up to our health budget.
eHealth solutions focus on specific ‘pain points’ or domains, and they get really good at it, precisely due to their focus. Start-ups have to be at the edge of the innovation out there in the world, and their role is precisely to stay there and be best there and keep up to speed. For us – as industry – it would be very difficult, for example, to build the best smoking cessation solution and the best nutritional program and the best fitness coaching or the best medication compliance solution because it is not our core and given the speed of development in these areas, there will “always” be someone better that us. Patients are less “patients” and take a more active role in their own health and they are the best allies protecting their own health.
At AXA we work with partners because we recognize we can’t do it all, and we partner with others that excel in some areas to achieve win-win relationships with aligned objectives. At AXA we understand that one size does not fit all, and some solutions may be more relevant for specific customers segments, in specific geographical or cultural contexts, at a specific moment in time (at early stages of disease, at later ones etc). We work together with the start-ups to build the value proposition and the business models, but how do we get these solutions to our customers? We have developed platforms that well serve as vehicles for these solutions. AXA is already collaborating with more than 20 start-ups to improve our Health value proposition in the different entities and, we have further reviewed the potential for collaboration with more than 100 additional ones, some of which remain in the pipeline for future collaboration, some have been disregarded. Furthermore, and as communicated in the Investor Relations Day, AXA is investing a significant proportion of the M&A budget on innovation, and this illustrates the commitment to innovate in the insurance industry.
Besides the relatively recent involvement of health insurers into this eHealth ecosystem, there are several early learnings. Firstly, scientific validation of the solutions and solidity of the propositions. But equally important is measuring the outcomes of the collaboration, and ensuring speed and expertise remain relevant and contributing to adding value to our customers.
All these objectives to protect our customers’ health, to exceed customers’ expectations, but also to balance access, quality and cost, are both, accelerated and facilitated, in the digital era. A great opportunity for the health insurance industry to tap in and make a difference.