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In or out? Sharing health data in Dragon’s Den

“This is a shambles” explains Deborah Meaden, visibly fatigued from a disastrous pitch for new kind of ‘Secured Mailbox’. “I’ve never seen a presentation like this in the Den. Have you actually spoken to each other before you walked through those doors?”

Three men stand sheepishly in a row, exasperated, each with their hands clasped together. “We did, yes…” the words tumble out. The man on the right looks to the others for reassurance.

Peter Jones, always perceptive, comments on the interesting atmosphere in the Den. “I actually couldn’t agree more” he says lightly, as the camera pans to Deborah, nodding, her eyes fixated on the now-melting entrepreneurs, “it’s embarrassing isn’t it.”

One after the other, the dragons declare themselves “out”.

At the 2022 ABI Annual Conference, Health and Protection morning breakout, we are presenting our very own version of Dragon’s Den to attendees. Two insurers will pitch a hypothetical insurance product to a panel of Dragons; imagining that we are living in a future where customers can share medical reports with insurers directly. The product is designed to maximise the value-sharing between the insurer and insured.

Patient-Controlled Health Data

While this vision of the future is not yet realised, it is the direction of travel. As part of the Long Term plan, the NHS pledges to give patients ‘control over their medical record’. In theory, patient-control means the ability to access, add to, and share medical information.

The simplest way to deliver care that addresses the issues that matter to people is to improve the ability of individuals to manage their own health. This is known as supported self-management and closely linked to personalised healthcare. Simplicity isn’t the only virtue of this approach. Personalised healthcare promises to give patients unprecedented autonomy through access to the right information and digital tools, making them informed participants rather than just receivers of care.

The gears are starting to move, with the roll out of the NHS app and incremental patient access to primary care records. While the pedal isn’t quite ‘to the metal’, it is undeniable that the NHS Digital Transformation agenda was accelerated during the pandemic, in response to an urgent need for digitally enabled, flexible care.

Greater patient autonomy means a greater ability to choose, which will provide much needed oxygen for competition and innovation, enabled by technology. But what is the role of insurers, and how can we maximise the opportunities to improve trust and customer outcomes?

The Role of Insurers

Patient-controlled data has the potential to revolutionise the insurance industry by creating a direct link between insurers and their customers’ health data, shaping a new relationship of trust and value sharing. Allowing patients to share their data with insurers increases insurers’ ability to improve the care they deliver to customers and drive up engagement with prevention services.

As you may have heard, prevention is better than cure. Prevention is a key public health priority, highlighted by the new Office for Health Improvement & Disparities. It is also an area where the private sector is well placed to complement the NHS. In fact, insurance already plays a major role in preventing ill-health, increasingly providing value-added services aimed at keeping people healthy and in work.
While the solution is simple, getting there might not be.

Trust and Value for customers

Realising this long-term vision depends on whether insurance is trusted to use data in customers’ best interests and recognised as a valued partner for healthcare management.

Being trustworthy and being trusted are two different things. Those of us who work in the industry know that insurers are trustworthy. There is a business case for insurers to prevent ill-health. In doing so, they reduce costs by reducing claims. As it happens, individuals covered by insurance also want to be healthy and in-work, which is exactly what their employers want.

While insurers are trustworthy, they are not always trusted. We must address reputational issues that continue to haunt the industry by demonstrating trustworthiness. Based on research by Britain Thinks, commissioned by the ABI, we are working to improve trust in how insurers use health data, based on four key principles: control over data, relevance of the data shared, benefits of sharing the data, and perceived harms.

Patient-controlled health data is the direction of travel. However, there remains some distance between where we are presently and a future in which customers can share medical reports with insurers directly. There are barriers now, and no doubt there will be bumps in the road going forward. It is crucial that we have a clear idea of the future we want and the value insurers can give back to customers in that future. The ABI Annual conference Dragon’s Den promises to be a trial by fire, forging innovative new ideas and starting to shape our industry’s vision of the future.

You can sign up to join our annual conference here 

Last updated 13/12/2021