Life and Health in Asia - What Are O2O Services and Why Are They Important to Insurers?
In case the term “O2O” is unfamiliar, it means online-to-offline, or offline-to-online, and describes the two-way flow between online discovery and actual commerce in the real world. Those of us who have been working in the insurance industry for a while will remember the days when access to social media was simply blocked as part of company IT policy. At best, it was viewed as unrelated to work, and at worst, a security risk. A decade later, having started with marketing campaigns via social media platforms, digital ecosystems are now tightly integrated into our daily work.
The Ping An Good Doctor app in China is one of the best examples of the exponential leap in O2O healthcare services. By providing doctor consultations, diagnosis and treatment support, and appointment booking online, the app is credited with revolutionizing customer experience in the healthcare space. It has also proven to be a lifeline during the coronavirus pandemic. Registered new users reportedly increased tenfold between January 22 and February 6, 2020, with up to nine times as many daily online consultations taking place.1
The growing popularity of Good Doctor, and similar online healthcare apps, is creating multiple benefits for insurance companies in Asia. These apps not only improve customer experience, they give insurers better control over costs (ultimately leading to better loss ratios) and provide excellent opportunities to upsell products.
O2O healthcare is having a particularly strong impact on the management of chronic diseases. Asia is disproportionately affected by chronic diseases due to a combination of environmental factors and the low availability of screening devices. Yet early diagnosis and intervention often means significantly better outcomes for chronic disease patients, plus reduced overall costs for insurers. The use of medical devices coupled with real-time analytics means market segments previously viewed as uninsurable are now opening up. For example, diabetic patients can now purchase products specifically designed for their needs.
O2O Agency Management
When it comes to agency management, plenty of good examples show O2O services at work within the insurance industry. This is hardly surprising; Life insurers were among the pioneers, starting with the merging of the online and offline experience at point-of-sale. The days of bringing stacks of paper proposals and brochures along to appointments are long gone, with information now accessible at the swipe of a fingertip.
Insurance sales in Asia have been dominated by the agency channel. While this channel has fueled the success of Asia’s high-growth insurance industry, turnover and productivity have always been a big concern. With the help of big data and analytics, O2O use case has evolved into lead generation and the optimization of cross-selling opportunities. Many startups are focused on developing O2O features for agency management; for example, iYunbao provides lead generation services to Life insurance agents in China via WeChat. Such innovations are facilitating better agency management, and in turn, building a more sustainable channel for the insurance industry.
O2O Healthcare Is Leading the Way, But There’s More to Come
The potential value of O2O healthcare services is huge and finding ways to leverage the opportunities that technology makes possible is now a key focus for most Life and Health insurers. Innovators and early adopters stand to reap the rewards, unlocking value through new use cases. Let’s embrace this new O2O world that we are living in - and together explore the possibilities brought by digitalization.
To take a deeper dive into O2O services - the opportunities they present insurers and the companies leading the way in Asia - visit issue 3 of our Life and Health in Asia series on The Digital Insurer website (sign-up is free).
Also included in issue 3 of Life and Health in Asia:
- Indonesia’s Demographics Drive Life and Health Innovation
- Digital Health Claims and Next Generation TPAs
- In Conversation With Sanjeeb Kumar, CEO of General Reinsurance AG, India