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Thought leadership, insights, and success stories

What is Wellness and Why Does it Matter to Insurers?

Coming out of the pandemic, it’s probably no surprise that wellness is top of mind for just about everyone. In a 2021 survey of RGA customers, 80% or more said they were focused on providing wellness solutions to their members, but only 60% said they had accomplished that goal. In a recent Technovate podcast, I had an opportunity to explore that challenge with Alon Shem-Tov, Vice President of International Sales at Binah.ai, an Israeli company providing cutting-edge wellness solutions to businesses like insurance carriers and medical providers.

Watch my interview with Alon Shem-Tov of Binah.ai  ▶️


What is Wellness?

In the webinar, Alon shared the definition of wellness offered by the Global Wellness Institute: The active pursuit of the activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a holistic state of health. That’s not bad as definitions of wellness go, but it’s not terribly actionable for either the individual or the insurer.

As Alon notes, there are multiple definitions of wellness. “The first one of course, is physical, which includes our nutrition, sleeping patterns, exercise level, and even more than that. The mental dimension is also very important, of course, and it's referring to our ability to handle life challenges with our friends, colleagues, and families.”

Alon also points out that financial wellness can have a big impact on a person’s holistic well-being. We didn’t go into that too deeply, but I think we all understand the health challenges that can stem from financial insecurity. It’s more than just not being able to pay for adequate medical care. The strain of not knowing whether you’ll be able to meet your family’s daily expenses can impact all the other dimensions of well-being: eating well, getting enough sleep, finding time to exercise, and our relationships with our family, friends, and coworkers.

Why Does it Matter to Insurers?

As Atul Kamra, CEO of SixThirty shared in a recent RGAX interview on trends impacting the insurance industry, “There is more recognition than ever of the connection between our physical and our financial well-being. For example, 1 in 10 adults delay medical care due to financial constraints, over 40 million Americans have medical debt, and 3 of the top 4 concerns for Americans approaching retirement are all medical and health related: support if disabled, long term care, and medical expenses.”

The greatest takeaway from this is something that all of us probably already recognize: You can’t focus on just one aspect of wellness, such as nutrition or exercise, if you want to achieve a holistic state of health that includes the whole person.

What Does Your Face Say About Wellness?

The demonstration Alon gave of Binah.ai’s solution was an absolutely fascinating use of technology to manage wellness. We know that facial recognition software has steadily advanced to the point where it can identify almost anyone anywhere – whether we want it to or not. But who knew that a 60-second scan of a face could also provide things like heart rate, oxygen saturation level, stress level, and blood pressure? As their website shares, “Binah.ai extracts health measurements from a video stream of exposed skin on the surface of a human face. The video stream is analyzed with advanced AI and deep learning algorithms and no identifiable features or demographic data (e.g., eyes, height, gender, weight, etc.) are needed.” All of that to say, this technology is certainly leaning into the future and is one that the industry will most certainly be tracking.

For more on photoplethysmography (PPG), read: What Lies Beneath: Photoplethysmography (PPG) Solutions for Insurance

We also discussed during the Technovate webinar, that wellness is not something others do for us. It’s really something we have to do for ourselves. What’s unique in this offering is that the Binah.ai solution makes taking individual responsibility easy as it runs on a medical device nearly all of us carry with us everywhere: our mobile phones.

From a product developers’ perspective, I find it interesting how the Binah.ai solution can be packaged. That’s because, unlike many solutions, you don’t download the app from Google Play or the Apple App Store. Binah.ai is a B2B company that sells its software development kit (SDK) directly to organizations that then repackage it for use with customers. Binah.ai has tried to make the entire process simple, and according to Alon, the implementation can usually be completed in less than two weeks.

A Binah-ai Use Case: Underwriting

Perhaps able to read his audience as well as his app can read faces, Alon talked about how Binah.ai can be used to simplify underwriting. Fluidless underwriting is a popular topic as carriers seek to accelerate the underwriting process. This approach skips the trip to the physician’s office or the home visit from a carrier’s health technician for segments of the population seen as less of a risk, e.g., younger applicants.

For more on fluidless underwriting, read: COVID-19 May Change Life Insurance Business and Underwriting Forever.

Nevertheless, fluidless underwriting carries inherent risks. No group is immune to disease, including the young, and people aren’t always completely accurate when filling out their applications. Sometimes they’ve got something to hide, but much of the time, they just don’t remember the details.

Carriers can cut those risks by getting accurate readings on heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, etc. – exactly the types of metrics the Binah.ai solution measures. I mentioned the solution also works on just about any mobile device so carriers could bundle the solution as a download into their application process, speeding up the results and simplifying everything for the applicant. What’s not to like about that?

Check out my discussion with Alon here. You can also reach out to Binah.ai through their website. Have an insurtech solution you’d like to tell us about? Share it with us -- and be sure to view our library of past Technovate episodes.

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Written by: Dennis Barnes

As CEO of RGAX, Dennis is responsible for global leadership of RGAX and is a member of RGA’s Executive Committee. Dennis has over two decades of experience as an entrepreneur and innovator in insurance direct marketing. Prior to joining RGAX, he led an integrated healthcare marketing services company which he founded in 1997 and was later acquired in 2010 by WPP. As part of WPP, he was president of Wunderman St. Louis and Chief Client Officer of Wunderman Health, a digital agency for life insurance, pharmaceutical, medical devices and other health and wellness verticals.

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