Sophisticated technology heralds era of predictive, more proactive healthcare
Fourth Industrial Revolution technology extends capacity to protect human health
Technology is changing our lives through streamlining and automating processes that previously would have been far more expensive and time-consuming. Through enhanced integration and artificial intelligence, health and financial services, human capital and rewards can now better serve beneficiaries and employers alike – often predicting and pre-empting needs before they arise.
Technology expert and thought leader on the new digital economy, Herman Singh points out that the fourth industrial revolution has brought about a fundamental shift in the nature of business and customer expectations.
“Information is powerful, and with the rapid acceleration in information technology it is now possible to capture, send, store and process information more easily than ever before and these processes are now virtually instantaneous and increasingly effortless,” he said, speaking at a recent think-tank hosted by health, financial services, human capital risk management and technology solutions investment group, Agility.
“This is changing our lives in phenomenal ways. A few years ago, if I wanted to buy a book I would need to get in my car, drive to the bookshop, park the car, physically enter the shop, look for the book and – assuming I was lucky enough to find it at the first bookshop I visited – stand in a queue and pay for it, before driving home. This process could easily take an hour or more,” he adds.
“Let’s examine the impact technology is having in value-chain compression. Thanks to the enhancement of technology, I can download entire books to my personal device in a split second and technology even predicts which books I’m likely to be interested in and brings them to my attention before I even ask.
“In addition, if we consider the price of a newly printed book and the petrol it took to get it in the past, as well as the value of my time, these are expenses that are now either unnecessary or hugely reduced.”
Singh notes that the convenience and highly individualised nature of such interactions has raised customer expectations, which gives rise to fresh possibilities such as how technology can be used to better serve the needs of the health and financial sectors more proactively.
“Sophisticated technology has brought about a world of change in what is possible – for example where an individual’s risk of a heart attack can be predicted through the application of technology. We are constantly creating data, without necessarily being aware of it, in our everyday lives.”
“Insurance companies can now score risk far better at individual level. Insurance used to be about averaging risk-per-bucket of customers, but with the proliferation of data available and the technology that allows for billions of processes to create meaning and predictions from this data, it is possible to predict my individual risk – not the risk of a group of people like me, but my individual risk.”
Director of product development and world-renowned pharmacologist at the Agility group, Dr Jacques Snyman, says that technology underpins the powerful intelligent systems Agility has developed, which go further than merely predicting risk ¬to proactively assisting companies and individuals reduce the risks they may face.
“If you can measure risk, you can actively manage it. As technology advances we are able to do so with ever-greater precision. Agility has been a research- and development-focused company since inception, and all data at a granular level has been developed to ensure that clinical evidence translates into stakeholder benefit for patients, funders and employers alike,” Dr Snyman notes.
“This is evidenced by the most recent industry information, which shows that Agility’s operating subsidiaries’ clients’ patient hospital admissions rate per thousand beneficiaries was an astounding 45% less than the industry average. Furthermore, only 15% of Agility members were re-admitted to hospital, compared to the industry average of 37%, indicating the effectiveness of the Agility approach.
“This is thanks to the superior technology we use, whereby the identification of potential risk enables pro-active management based on need, rather than want, thereby balancing supply and demand for enhanced sustainability. This has a unique ability to highlight risks by running algorithms, and we are then able to reach out to at-risk members and offer the necessary assistance to improve outcomes.”
Agility’s patented Patient Driven CareTM programme identifies at-risk members and provides individualised clinical management to pre-empt health risks. Personal health coordinators, who provide such members with the healthcare equivalent of a private banker’s service, ensure that at-risk members are managed holistically and receive targeted care to improve their health and, in many cases, mitigate the need for potential hospitalisation.
“This is contrary to the market norm whereby members are grouped according to disease, and these categories are managed through a silo-based approach with numerous contact points for the member, which can be time-consuming, confusing and frequently leads to multiple points of failure, often at the expense of the individual’s health and productivity,” Dr Snyman explains.
“From a group risk and employee benefits perspective, it makes sense to integrate all contributing elements of risk for a more effective, holistic solution, which not only reduces administration costs but can also serve as a basis for negotiating lower group risk premiums, as the efforts to mitigate such risks are both tangible and demonstrable.
“Our technologically-powered systems also enable us to provide the same level of service to individuals and employers in remote rural areas as well as those living in large cities. This ultimately means that irrespective of a client’s geographic location, they can expect the same access and excellent outcomes,” Dr Snyman says.
“One of the most powerful implications of the fourth industrial revolution is that technology extends our capacity to protect human health, as our sophisticated agile systems are becoming increasingly adept at predicting and proactively addressing risks for better health outcomes and enhanced productivity,” concludes Dr Snyman.