Closing the digital gap

This article has been supplied by Aviva UK. 

digital gap
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We are being bombarded by digital innovation, 365 days a year. Following a spate of ‘must-have’ apps appearing for consumers, group risk providers as a whole could still be missing one vital digital trick.

Digital is everything. The internet has changed the world, and there is a world of online potential that is just starting to be tapped into for group risk customers everywhere.

The trend for monitoring wellness of every kind with a digital widget is worth over $4bn (approximately £2.6bn), precisely because there is a market for it. People care about health, they love animated challenges and they relish opportunities to access instant, informative insights that can help them live life to the full.

Proof? A quick search on the App Store or Google Play finds more than 100,000 health or fitness apps, and that is without including fitness-tracking wearable technology. Of the dozen or so organisations recognised as being leaders in the industry on the Group Risk Development (Grid) website, it is difficult to think of anyone that has not created a customer-focused app in the last couple of years. The question then is this: is anyone using digital to its full potential yet?

The industry is interpreting historic data and recognising trends more accurately than ever before, so it should be getting it right by now. And inevitably it is true that with progress comes an element of controversy: a law firm in Canada is using a client’s Fitbit history in a personal injury claim. But many employers see apps and information hubs as a simply fantastic, efficient, effective way to help improve the health of their workforce. Furthermore, they can support the group risk sector in using digital to improve awareness about the fiscal value of wellbeing at work.

Aviva UK has partnered with mobile health provider Babylon, for example, because it was a better way to ensure that employees going through a group income protection claim have rapid access to GPs, consultants and their prescriptions: saving time and saving money, all round, for everyone. No fluffy features or zany graphics for the sake of it, just hard benefits that help employees get medical attention faster: pure and simple. Video consultations instead of visiting a surgery? Click. Making an appointment in less than a minute? Click. Symptom checker, online? Click. Click. Click.

People do want digital relationships and employees are digital savvy enough to embrace change as it happens, too.

As a result, all digital options are being explored that could help improve clinical outcomes across the board in the group risk sector. But as well as providing services that help improve employees’ lives today, the industry could use the data being collected as a two-way street to find out exactly what employers want tomorrow.

Employees have been using smartphones for ages and have had email addresses for more than a decade. They have all switched on to digital, and they are all accustomed to filling in surveys and responding to online polls. So, as well as launching customer-focused apps, the sector should be inviting them to share feedback about its digital propositions themselves more often. Why? Because it is a good thing to invite their comments, particularly in an industry where success depends on people’s perceptions of tangible value.

If there is one trick that the industry is missing in general, it is that it could be sharing more digital insights about the data gleaned from each other and from each segment. It should be closing the digital gap, and giving more information back to the people whose lives it is actually trying to improve.

Steve Bridger is managing director, group protection at Aviva UK