Diabetic patients have traditionally been shunned by underwriters, but things are about to change – if they have not already started. Health2Sync’s proprietary platform empowers patients to manage their condition, while giving insurers a new way to assess risk and offer protection to a demographic previously considered uninsurable, says CEO Ed Deng.
Not only is the lack of patient knowledge and data to manage diabetes an exploding problem in Asia, the shortage of diabetes care professionals and the non-existence of a scalable method to effectively manage the chronic disease are compounding issues. Thus, it was based on this premise that Health2Sync was founded, said CEO Ed Deng, who explained that it was due to Taiwan’s reputation for having one of the best diabetes care practices in the world that the company chose to set up shop there.
“When it comes to diabetes care, Taiwan is one of the leaders in Asia and provides face-to-face diabetes education through multidisciplinary teams. But in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, or China, how do you afford face-to-face follow-ups all the time?”
Thus, at a time when governments in Asia are seeking proven patient-centric diabetes care across various service lines, such as insurers and care providers, Health2Sync steps in to provide a scalable model of care through automation, as well as analytics for its partners to make informed decisions and to create new products and services.
No more open-and-shut rejections
On the consumer side, the platform, which helps track the individual’s blood sugar level and HBA1C, makes diabetes management personalised for each patient. Meanwhile, insurers will have at their disposal a tool that can provide a value-add service in allowing clients to self-manage and reduce claims. But more importantly, the data and analytics that the startup can provide will give the insurance industry the chance to effectively develop products for diabetic customers.
“In the past, it was either ‘yes’ or ‘no’; and if you’re diabetic, you couldn’t be insured. But even among patients, different HBA1Cs mean completely different risk levels. So as a result of the data now, there can be new underwriting criteria to make developing covers for diabetes patients viable,” Mr Deng said.
He added that Health2Sync has proven clinical efficacy in helping patients reduce, control and lower their variance of blood sugar with active participation. With 150,000 registered users spanning across Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong Southeast Asia, and the US, the platform has been able to help high-risk patients reduce blood sugar by an average of 20% after three months of usage. What this implies in insurance is that with the ongoing tracking and analyses of data, a diabetes patient “may or may not actually be more at risk than the average person”. As such, insurers could effectively price premiums more dynamically.
Turning back to Taiwan, the technopreneur noted that “only 30% of current long-term chronic disease patients are on some form of long-term care”. This ratio, he mooted, will diminish over time given the increasing prevalence of chronic disease and an ageing population, as government resources decline.
Therein lies the market’s pain point – an inevitably depleting government budget; yet on the flipside, this offers insurers the chance to step up and supplement health care needs, and close the protection gap.
And the InsurTech’s role is in between patient and insurer: enabling constant engagement with care providers and self-management of condition for the patient, while giving insurance companies the means for proper risk assessment and management in order for them to cover diabetics.
Since its debut in 2013, the company has launched a pilot with the local Ministry of Health & Welfare to bring diabetes care online nationwide. Separately, it is working not only with Taiwanese players, such as Fubon Life, but also insurers in Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia, with a focus on employee benefits programmes and individual health cover for diabetics.
While Taiwan’s health ministry took quickly to Health2Sync’s value proposition because “the government is serious about solving this issue”, Mr Deng noted aligning the relevant stakeholders, which also includes care providers and pharmaceutical companies among others in the wider ecosystem, is probably his biggest challenge as each party has its own motivations and pain points. “But whoever can achieve this first… that will ensure their long-term competitiveness and be a barrier to entry.” A