BUDAPEST/WARSAW: Japanese Europe is a brand new frontier for personal medical care, and insurers and tech startups are racing to steal a march on their rivals by harnessing the area’s well being knowledge.
Rising numbers of individuals in Japanese European states, from Hungary and Poland to Romania, are turning to personal well being. The shift is being pushed by rising wages, coupled with low public well being spending which has usually led to employees shortages and lengthy ready instances for checks and surgical procedure.
Now large insurance coverage gamers within the area, together with PZU, Generali, Vienna Insurance coverage Group (VIG) and Allianz, wish to collect and analyse affected person knowledge from the fast-growing market to enhance danger assessments and pricing.
“Information is the muse of the long run,” mentioned Gabriella Almassy, common supervisor of VIG’s Hungarian division, including that knowledge could be key to figuring out the place earnings can me made within the area’s more and more aggressive medical health insurance market.
To that finish, many insurers are teaming up with know-how firms similar to Polish startup Infermedica, whose software program analyses anonymised well being info to offer preliminary diagnoses.
“We’re seeing a well being knowledge growth that resembles the monetary knowledge growth from 10 to 15 years in the past when the banking sector modified so much,” mentioned Maciej Malenda, head of partnerships at Infermedica, which works with PZU and Allianz.
“Calling it a gold rush is completely correct.”
PZU, the area’s largest insurer, mentioned it was additionally trying into dozens of different startups to assist it broaden its well being enterprise.
Well being knowledge is an more and more coveted prize for insurers and know-how firms globally.
The pattern was illustrated by Google’s plans to purchase fitness-tracker maker Fitbit for US$2.1bil (RM8.58bil), introduced late final 12 months. The deal will convey the net big a wealthy trove of knowledge gathered by hundreds of thousands of Fitbit units, which monitor customers’ day by day steps, energy burned, coronary heart fee and sleep high quality, amongst different issues.
Fitbit has already partnered with insurers, and analysts say a lot of its worth might now lie in its well being knowledge.
Dangerous enterprise: dolphin vs whale
The fledgling nature of the Japanese European non-public healthcare market presents uncommon alternatives, as a result of low market saturation in contrast with extra mature Western markets, mixed with rising client spending energy – nevertheless it additionally poses the most important obstacles for insurers.
Executives say a shortage of knowledge could make it tough, or unwise, to determine tendencies and complicates the pricing of danger. They stress that it may take a number of years earlier than investments in knowledge assortment and evaluation repay, though they declined to reveal spending figures, citing industrial sensitivity.
Attila Hevesi, a product growth supervisor at Generali’s Hungarian division, mentioned there was no comparability between the amount and high quality of knowledge obtainable for medical health insurance and, for instance, automotive insurance coverage.
“The 2 aren’t on the identical web page,” he mentioned. “It is sort of a dolphin versus a blue whale. However possibly even a dolphin is an exaggeration.”
In an illustration of the considering of massive insurers, Hevesi mentioned Generali had struck a giant medical health insurance cope with a big employer which may find yourself being loss-making, nevertheless it was prepared to take the danger to construct up its trove of affected person knowledge within the rising Hungarian market.
He declined to present particulars about that deal, however mentioned Generali was incrementally enhancing its pricing in Hungary because of data-gathering.
VIG’s Czech division additionally mentioned entry to dependable well being knowledge was an issue.
“At present, we’re pricing based mostly on purchasers’ knowledge used for all times insurance coverage,” mentioned Kooperativa board member Filip Kral.
Information safety perils
One other main problem going through the nascent regional market is guaranteeing knowledge privateness and safety.
Firms dealing with private knowledge are required to guard confidentiality and have to put acceptable safety measures in place to adjust to stringent EU knowledge safety guidelines.
Nonetheless, the dangers of dealing with delicate well being info had been illustrated in October when Hungary’s Nationwide Institute of Pharmacy and Vitamin was hacked, with the information of hundreds of sufferers leaked from pharmacies and drug wholesalers.
Elsewhere in Europe, a British hospital belief was rapped by privateness authorities two years in the past for misusing knowledge, after it handed on private info of round 1.6 million sufferers to AI agency Google DeepMind.
Regardless of the potential pitfalls, nevertheless, many insurers seeking to carve out a distinct segment in Central and Japanese Europe’s well being market have little alternative however to embrace data-gathering to enhance pricing and profitability.
VIG, for instance, is planning to steer many Hungarian prospects to a self-service on-line platform this 12 months, which might give the corporate extra granular knowledge on how sufferers use non-public well being companies.
Within the first 9 months of 2019, VIG’s medical health insurance premium volumes rose to €513mil (RM2.33bil), with 62% of that coming from Austria and the remainder from Central and Japanese Europe – however the group is banking on the latter to underpin its enterprise in coming years, in line with spokesman Wolfgang Haas.
“That is the place we see the best potential for the long run.” – Reuters