There is a massive revolution taking place in technology and health; an intersection where insurance meets health meets high tech. You can see what is coming by looking at Apple Watch and the iPod Effect.
The iPod’s growth was slow at first, then visibility of the nameplate white earbuds skyrocketed as Apple added iTunes Music Store and Windows to iPod. We see something similar taking place with Apple Watch; more and more are clearly visible in the wild because fashion and utility peacefully co-exist. One day in the not-to-distant future Watch may be mandatory for lower insurance premiums.
Insurance is all about basic math and risk assessment. If you are in good health, exercise regularly, have a good diet, the right genes, and don’t smoke or abuse drugs or alcohol, you’re an obvious candidate for lower health insurance premiums. Safe drivers get lower insurance premiums. Why not lower premiums for those whose health can be tracked and measured?
How does a health insurance or life insurance company know you’re telling the truth when you fill out the forms? They don’t know for sure but they’ll get an idea if you need more healthcare than average adults.
What if health insurance and life insurance companies could monitor your health with an ongoing process, extracting data in near real time from a wearable device? The personal benefits are many. Health insurance payments could be reduced for those obviously in better health. Health tracking is similar to the old adage of ‘performance measured is performance improved.’ Health tracking begets better health.
Apple is in talks with a number of insurance companies to provide Apple Watch to their customers. Why? Watch helps to reduce costs because customers and users, as well as health care providers, can monitor health better and in near real time. I’m certain that Watch represents the first wave of a market disruption in personal health care. Not only do Watch users monitor their exercise regimen, those with heart and blood sugar problems will be able to monitor their health as well.
For now, Apple Watch has a useful heart rate tracker. I use the popular and free Cardiogram application to monitor occasional atrial fibrillation but we can expect future versions to tackle and solve the blood glucose problems that many diabetics face. Insurance companies may subsidize Apple Watch for customers and patients willing to wear the device daily and share data with professionals.
This revolution is not only coming, it has already started. I can see some insurers making it mandatory to have such health tracking wearables to even obtain insurance. With healthcare costs skyrocketing as fast as health insurance premiums, does it make sense to track patients and customers with more granular and nearly real time data?
I see another revolution evolving behind the coming health care disruption. That involves tracking by companies intent upon monitoring employees, their physical location by GPS, as well as their work by the built-in iPhone motion sensors; simply to ensure that workers are, well, actually working and doing what they are paid to do.
The benefits of such personal monitoring and tracking are obvious, but so are the dangers. My question is an age old question. Who monitors the monitors.