Deputy CEO at Discovery Health, Dr Ryan Noach, talks about how technology and emerging global healthcare trends has changed the way Discovery offers medical insurance and the digital solutions developed by Discovery in response to the increasingly changing digital health trends.

Responding to global consumer trends

In offering medical insurance, Discovery Health believes in the relevance and benefits of face-to-face advice to help members make well-informed choices. While face-to-face consultations are the primary distribution channel for medical schemes in South Africa and will likely continue to be so for the foreseeable future, we have noticed an increasing global trend of consumers using digital channels.

In response to these emerging trends Discovery Health has developed a number of digital solutions including an iPad app, Smart Advisor App, which aims to make it easier for financial advisers to engage with and sign on new clients; and an online application channel for new members called Direct to Consumer Channel (D2C).

In addition, Discovery has also incorporated its existing assets and tools to launch the Smart Plan, a health plan available through the Discovery app.

Better healthcare by facilitating care coordination

Discovery’s integrated value-driven healthcare system places the focus on the needs of the patients and working together with all industry role players. To foster care coordination, Discovery has developed technologies and programmes to support this approach that will enable better flow of information between health professionals throughout the healthcare system, including HealthID, an app which allows doctors access to their patients’ electronic health record. Discovery Health’s HealthID app for doctors provides doctors with a more complete view of their patients’ health history and test results, improving patient care and reducing the likelihood of serious medical errors, as well as reducing duplicate or unnecessary tests. Currently over 4,000 doctors and almost 1 million Discovery medical scheme members have subscribed to the platform.

As part of the care coordination programme, Discovery offers a home-based healthcare service offering high quality nursing and care-worker support in the comfort of a patient’s home. Discovery Health Care Coordinators engage directly with members who have multi-morbid, complex disease. Often the coordination role of these nursing professionals ensures seamless communication between multiple specialists, a family practitioner and the family of the affected member. Through the care coordination programme, hospital readmissions are reduced, and members’ healthcare is more stable.

Providing an intuitive and accessible system

Mobile and digital technologies such as wearable technologies and big data are driving significant change in global healthcare systems by empowering members and their doctors to manage their health and their health plans, improve coordination, quality of care and enhance the experience. Staying in touch with these emerging technologies and the insights from the data is a catalyst for new and unique product designs. For example, the Discovery Health Medical Scheme Smart Plan, which integrates digital platforms, network providers and medical services offer healthcare cover at a 20% lower contribution than for similar plans in the market.

Discovery has invested in a telemetry app that allows people with diabetes to take their blood glucose level and the reading is recorded from the monitor to their health record, which health professionals can also access to monitor progress.

Discovery is also focusing on genome sequencing through a global partnership with Human Longevity Inc. to sequence the DNA of Discovery Health Medical Scheme members, ultimately leading the way towards personalised medicine, personalised nutrition and personalised exercise.

There’s a shift in people becoming much more empowered in their health, as they engage in physical activity, especially if they have the ability to monitor their behaviour and earn real-time rewards. Mobile fitness and health devices enable people to track their health and fitness progress, and Discovery Vitality rewards them for this behaviour.

Discovery Health plans to continue to offer a range of digital health tools, to ensure that doctor practices remain in sync with global digital healthcare trends, enabling smarter healthcare delivery, ensuring better quality care and lower costs.

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