Google sister-company Verily’s health insurance plot is ‘good news’

Technology juggernaut Google has made a nod towards the US
health insurance industry via its sister-company Verily.

Healthcare unit Verily, formerly known as Google Life Sciences,
has reportedly been in talks with insurers about jointly bidding
for contracts that would involve taking on risk for hundreds of
thousands of patients. The Alphabet-owned company has
supposedly made a number of new hires and partnerships to
promote its insurance venture.

Verily is planning to enter the ‘population health’ or ‘care
management’ market, whereby it will use its extensive Google-
driven data platform to identify best possible patient-centric health
strategies.

But what does this mean for the health insurance markets in the
US? Insurance Business caught up with Capgemini’s healthcare
business leader and vice president, Aimee Sziklai, to get some
insight on this latest disruption.
“Verily’s entrance into the US health insurance market could shine
some light on how to improve healthcare outcomes at lower
costs, which is good news all around,” commented Sziklai. “The
trend of high deductible health plans in the US is here to stay. It
has awoken a newly engaged consumer with a better
understanding of cause and effect lifestyle choices.

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“A data-driven approach, like the solution Verily brings, will
enable more tailored insurance products to better meet individual
needs. As a sister-company to Google, Verily will have access to
enormous amounts of very granular data that it can use to
improve customer service. If Verily can also figure out how to
truly reach users as patients, it could use data to enable
interventionist care, which will ultimately lead to lower cost of
care and healthier lives.”

Verily is not a trailblazer in health data or insurance. The data has
been available for healthcare professionals for some time, but
nobody has yet translated it into a people-centric asset, Sziklai
explained. This is the challenge Verily is likely to take on if its
disruption of the US health insurance industry becomes a reality.

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To illustrate, Sziklai gave the example of Mary, who is known (by
virtue of claims data) to live with diabetes but has not visited her
doctor or touched base with her healthcare plan provider for
some years. A data-driven company like Verily can flag up the
anomaly in Mary’s behavior and check in with her to make sure
she’s OK. If Mary’s not caring for her diabetes properly, the cost
to treat it after a gap in care would be far more expensive than if
the provider was managing Mary properly along the way.

“From an insurance carrier or a payor perspective, people-centric
data analysis [analyzing retrospective claims data to inform
prospective issues] is very beneficial,” Sziklai told Insurance
Business. “Verily is by no means a first mover in health data or
insurance. Where the company differentiates itself is frankly by
virtue of the sheer scale and size of the underpinnings of Google
and the data they can and have collected. The granularity of that
data also sets them apart.

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“There’s certainly a demand among consumers for easier access
to healthcare. There’s an expectation that care should be provided
not only in a hospital or healthcare facility, but that it should be
offered in the wider community and at home. Using health data
in a meaningful way should enable more of that desired care
management.”

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