In June I spoke with Manulife’s Sushmita Munshi to film our first “Evolving Ecosystems” podcast. Munshi heads ManulifeMOVE, a behaviour-linked programme that integrates activity-tracking and insurance solutions to motivate healthy habits. This series of three blogs looks at the central importance of data, how Manulife has approached creating an ecosystem, and the technical aspects involved in delivering complex innovation in a large organisation. 

Behavioural insurance is an evolving field that is designed to motivate customers to make choices that have beneficial effects for them and societies more broadly. This includes nudging people to make healthier lifestyle choices and inculcate healthier habits like exercise, nutrition and health-monitoring.

Manulife made significant progress in this area in Asia-Pacific in 2015 when it launched ManulifeMOVE, a programme delivered via a proprietary app that gives customers insights into their health, provides rewards and support, and integrates activity-tracking with its insurance solutions. Customers can also access an ecosystem of services that helps them to take the next steps in achieving better health.

Today, ManulifeMOVE has around one million customers in six markets: Cambodia, Mainland China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. Munshi has led this pioneering effort, developing a novel proposition within a large organisation – driven, she says, by management’s belief that behavioural insurance would prove a significant differentiator as people become more aware of the importance of staying healthy.

Revolution, then evolution 

Health ecosystems typically comprise partners across wellness, fitness and at point of illness, with insurers traditionally focused on the last of these. Only when customers send in pre-approvals do they start providing services for a better experience: at the point of treatment, post-treatment and – when it applies – post-operative care.  

Behavioural insurance extends insurers’ influence along this continuum to wellness and fitness, keeping customers healthy so that they are less likely to become ill. The COVID-19 pandemic has boosted awareness of these aspects as well as for the need for digital solutions, says Munshi, with customers more aware than ever that prevention is better than cure.

“It’s a three-way win,” Munshi says. “It’s a win for our customers, who have longer and healthier lives. It’s a win for insurers as we have fewer claims. And it’s a win for society, because if you have wide adoption of behavioural insurance, countries could spend less on healthcare, reducing the burden on public health systems.”

Has the app resulted in lifestyle changes that allow Manulife to alter its morbidity and mortality assumptions? Munshi says it’s too early to say, although ManulifeMOVE users have changed their behaviour and are more engaged.

“We see people who started off with a few thousand steps are walking more now – they’re participating in our reward challenges and they’re consuming our wellness content,” she says. “That means there is improved intent followed up with action across the customer base.”

Data central 

Behavioural insurance rests on the analysis of data – by the individual, insurers and partners in broader health ecosystems. For those accessing healthcare services, “It’s going to be about looking at data over a longer period, instead of basing it off a snapshot of the temperature taken at the doctor’s office,” Munshi says.

This puts the onus on insurers to provide more customised products and access to a broader suite of services. “Instead of having very broad products with assumptions of a very wide cohort, people are going to expect products which are more focused on their needs or for people like them,” Munshi says.

And at the heart of the ability to create products, offerings and effective ecosystems is customer data. In any field, that raises a range of issues; when it comes to healthcare, it raises more. And when it comes to sharing healthcare data with ecosystem partners, these issues are especially acute.

Customer data is one of Manulife’s most important assets, “and managing it, storing it and – if we decide to share it, with utmost care – is possibly the most important priority for us,” Munshi says. To that end, if Manulife needs to collect data, it explains why it is needed, how it will be stored and, if applicable, why it’s sharing it.

In addition, Manulife deals differently with different partners depending on the depth of each relationship. For transactional relationships, for instance, it shares no data. Instead, should a customer win a reward, for example, they receive a unique code that they can use at the partner’s point-of-sale.

Other partnerships are more in-depth, yet data anonymity is key there too. Take Manulife’s partnership with Swiss digital-health platform provider, dacadoo, whose Health Score lets app users measure how healthy they are, and tells them what they need to do to stay healthy. Partners like this get only the data they need, and in every case that data is anonymised and collated at the cohort level, which means it cannot be tracked back to an individual.

The wellness platform that ManulifeMOVE provides access to is a compelling example of an evolving ecosystem. In our second blog, we will look at how Manulife built it.

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