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How insurtechs and insurers are helping to fight the pandemic

By Roger Peverelli and Reggy de Feniks, Founders The DIA Community

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How insurtechs and insurers are helping to fight the pandemic

We see more and more insurtechs with the mission to tackle important global challenges - also in the DIA Community. Think of how health insurers apply all sorts of connected devices and advanced algorithms to improve patient care and help flatten the curve.

More and more insurance carriers, insurtechs and other tech companies that are part of the DIA Community are lending their talent and technology to help the world fight the pandemic. In this time especially, it’s beautiful to see numerous new emerging, creative and especially heart-warming initiatives. 

 

Our analysis shows that each of these innovations solves very specific problems. We defined eight categories in which they provide new added value. Each tapping into real needs, proving the relevancy and social impact of the insurtech and insurance community.

 

1.  Educating what corona is exactly and how to know if you have it

The rising number of corona infections causes people to start thinking they might be infected as well. Call centers and healthcare facilities receive enormous amounts of phone calls of anxious people who think they have symptoms, even though 80% of them do not. 

To lower anxiety and deliver fast and remote triage, Mediktor (Spain) designed a symptom checker able to identify what might be COVID-19 and provide a recommendation on what to do next. It differs from other symptom checkers because it provides a differential diagnosis, sharing a list of possible diseases ordered from highest to lowest probability. Mediktor’s symptom checker is also imbedded in Savia (Spain), a digital platform for health services that provides free online medical consults during the Covid-19 crisis. Both Mediktor and Savia are member of Barcelona Health Hub, just like DIA.

 

There are a low number of quick assessments for people with COVID-19 symptoms that provide reliable recommendations and next steps. Consequently, medical professionals and health systems are overburdened by too many cases. 

Infermedica (Poland) provided a solution that cuts both ways. They developed a screening protocol based on the official guidelines by WHO. It’s free of charge, translated in 20 languages and can be used within minutes. This way, Infermedica hopes to help as many people as they can. Infermedica will join us on stage at DIA Amsterdam end of October.

 

 

2.  Knowing what to do if you’re abroad

To stop the spread of COVID-19, almost all global travel is brought to a halt. As a result, many travellers have stranded on airports trying to get back home. 

The German government reached out to SAP (Germany) to ask them for a web application to help coordinate the repatriation process from a logistical standpoint. They created a simple, safe, stable and scalable application for German citizens to submit their personal data in order to complete their repatriation as efficiently and quickly as possible. On the 26th of March already more than 80,000 German citizens registered using the new application.

 

Expats and travellers who are in countries abroad have difficulties finding general and country specific COVID-19 information. It can also be quite a challenge to get tested or to find medical help, if necessary. Every country has specific requirements and are not always able to offer assistance in English. 

DIA alumnus Air Doctor (Israel) created a comprehensive country-by-country guide that includes general information as well as details on where to find help. By using this guide, expats and travellers can comply with specific country requirements, limit exposure to others and help to flatten the curve. 

 

3.  Preventing infection and spread of the virus

How can we protect ourselves, our loved ones and our entire community from getting infected with COVID-19? 

The government of Singapore came up with a community-driven contact tracing app called Trace Together (Singapore) to stop the spread of the virus. Trace Together is able to identify people who have been within 2 meters of coronavirus patients for at least 30 minutes, using wireless Bluetooth technology. Trace Together identifies phones with the app installed and can use the information, if need arises, to identify close contacts based on the proximity and the duration of an encounter between two users. Infected individuals can choose to allow the Ministry of Health to access the data in the app to identify those close contacts. 

Such tech driven innovations can of course contribute to prevent the spread and limit the ongoing suffering the pandemic is causing. However, we do need to keep in mind that once we provide others with insights in our personal data, it’s often quite difficult to get the authorisation back in the long term.

 

We all know we should avoid touching our face to prevent the Corona virus from getting us sick. But this is easier said than done. Slightly Robot (USA) redesigned their wearable that stops another type of harmful touching - trichotillomania, a disorder that compels people to pull out their hair to one that prevents you from touching your face. The Immutouch wristband senses your hand movement 10 times per second and will vibrate once you touch your face. This way Slightly Robot will support you in the fight against getting yourself infected with COVID-19.

 

4.  Offering relief to the overloaded GP offices

As hospitals still have enormous amounts of tasks at hand, one of the many heard solutions to lower this is to reduce contamination risks. 

DKV Seguros, one of the largest health insurers in Spain and also a member of Barcelona Health Hub, offers its telemedicine platform for free to connect patients and doctors through online medical consult. By downloading the app, a patient can go to a medical chat to do any type medical consult. In this way, patients can be helped while staying at home. This will help to minimise physical contact, relief the medical health care and to flatten the curve.

 

A lot of people with symptoms are in doubt if they have corona. Doctors appointments cause unnecessary movement and physical contact that increases the risk of further spread. Next to that, physical appointments are extremely time consuming and causes the first line of medical aid to be overloaded.

In order to help the people as well as the medical system, AXA Belgium developed a digital medical consult. Patients dial in, answers a few questions and receives an appointment with the doctor. A doctor calms, advices or refers a patient. With teleconsultation the risk of spreading the virus is reduced, while the first aid line is still available for those who need it. 

 

 

5.  Lightening the workload in hospitals 

To prevent misleading information to cause fear and confusion amongst communities and to support hospitals and doctors offices during this pandemic, DIA alumnus ekincare (India), a B2B2C health-tech company, opened up its on-roll doctor resources for 24x7 online doctor consultations for companies pan-India. Employees of these companies can download the ekincare app, register and chat with a doctor anytime about any queries. You will be connected to a doctor in just 45 seconds! eKincare’s platform also includes a Covid symptom analyser with the ability to follow through the government recommended next steps. 

 

Every day we read about the patient flows resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, leading to increased scarcity of critical care capacity. 

Philips provides healthcare institutions with telehealth solution to process healthcare requests via online screening. Patients infected with the virus can be remotely monitored through automated questionnaires about their home situation and state of health. The telehealth solution aims to prevent unnecessary visits to hospitals and enables the remote monitoring of the vast majority of COVID-19 patients that are in quarantine at home as an alternative point of care. 

 

6.  Securing sufficient resources for medical aid  

The regular procedure of diagnosing COVID-19 patients by using PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) takes a lot of time and resources. Since medical professionals are now resorting to chest CT images for quicker COVID-19 diagnoses, DIA Alumnus Allm (Japan), with the cooperation of medical institutions in Japan, now provides the COVID-19 Image Set to share distinctive qualities when reading images - for free, worldwide and regularly updated. Through Allm’s communication platform, Join, medical professionals can access the COVID-19 Image Set in its DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) viewer feature. Join is provided for free as Allm hopes these efforts will help control the spread of COVID-19 around the world.

 

 

In many countries there is a genuine fear that the number of emergency ventilators and other equipment to treat COVID-19 patients is not enough, even leading to a run on equipment. But there are also new initiatives to produce more quickly and efficient. 

To be able to save as many lives as possible, Munich Re and Frauenhofer Research Institute initiated the Give A Breath Challenge to find the best 3D-printable designs to enable immediate, decentralised production. A jury will decide on the best design and this design will eventually be produced. The challenge has funding (for prize purses and a realisation fund) of at least €1 million.

 

7.  Understanding COVID-19 better to predict and contain the virus

The curve of COVID-19 cases can only be flattened once we monitor the amount of verified cases carefully and act accordingly. 

Fusionbase (Germany) is a deep-tech startup that offers data science and analytics teams a central hub for external data like demographics, crime, natural disasters or terror attacks. They are also a participant in the Innovation Programme of DIA-partner InsurTech Hub Munich. During the pandemic, Fusionbase provides real-time and granular data on COVID-19 cases globally as well as government measures like border closings. Insurers and large corporations use this data to assess and monitor supply chain risks. This way Fusionbase contributes to flatten the curve!

 

The current pandemic asks for a speed up in processing test results for COVID-19. But how can you speed things up when test results need to be put into spreadsheets manually, taking several hours or longer to complete? 

UiPath (Romania/USA) launched a pilot project with software robots that can sort and distribute test results from the hospital’s on-site lab in minutes, enabling staff to quickly put infection prevention and control measures in place where necessary. By automating the process, nurses and other specialists in the hospital’s infection control department are freed up to spend more time with patients.

 

 

 

8.  Maintaining personal well-being in pandemic times

The pandemic and all related measures can leave people who have to stay home feeling fragile, lonely, fearful and unsecure.
To resolve this, DIAmond Award winner BESTFIT (Israel) has created a special COVID-19 platform for insurers to reach out and engage with clients. With 12 indirect questions, behaviour science identifies the vulnerability profile of a person. Based on someone’s profile, the insurance company can provide customer care, advice and assistance on how to best cope with his/her situation. At the same time, the obtained emotional business intelligence can be used for solutions for post crisis times.

 

Maintaining healthy habits and personal well-being during a pandemic can be difficult. 

Virgin Pulse (UK) offers their members a specific toolkit and integrated programs to track Covid-19 healthy habits To ensure people stay mentally, physically and financially fit. This self-service hub, available in 100+ languages, serves as a ‘COVID-19 Homebase’. They teamed up with Aaptiv, Enrich, meQuilibrium, Monj, Whil and Zipongo to provide free access to health and wellbeing programs and resources for people to navigate this pandemic in a positive, healthy way. Examples include cardio classes, chef-led cooking demos and mindfulness audios put into a gamified app that offers challenges and rewards to track your healthy habits. 

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