At the 2016 ACE Conference, Brad Koland, Director of Risk and Insurance Management with Land O’Lakes and Jarrod Magan, VP Client Technology Services with Sedgwick discussed the increasing role that wearable technology is playing in claims management.
We are not far away from the day when an individual’s wearable device can upload data directly to a person’s health record. This could monitor things like insulin levels for diabetics, blood pressure and heart rates, sleep patterns, and compliance with taking prescribed medications. There are even wearables that can monitor sun exposure and recommend reapplying sunscreen.
By 2020 more than 75 million wearables will be in the workplace, up from 2.5 million today. It is estimated that by 2018 over 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment.
Examples of wearable devices include activity trackers, smart watches, clothing or patches with monitoring devices embedded, ingestible or implantable devices, exoskeletons and advanced prosthetics.
The forces enabling the growth in this area are really the prevalence of smartphones and all the advanced technology associated with them. These phones have led to mobile first solutions and there has been widespread consumer adoption. These smartphones can easily link with the wearable devices allowing data to be transmitted to a third party.
Areas ripe for disruption using wearables in claims industry include:
- Overall visibility and communication with the claimant.
- Injured worker engagement and empowerment.
- Medication adherence.
- Remote monitoring.
- Return to work.
- Doctor appointments.
- Safety and training.
- Pain management.
The safety and prevention area is especially promising. This could monitor over-exertion and improper lifting techniques and fatigue levels in drivers. Such wearables could lead to a reduction in claims.
Some of the concerns and challenges associated with wearables included:
- Critical mass adoption.
- Privacy invasion concerns.
- Data / device fatigue.
- Highly personal real estate.
- Security troubles.
- Analysis paralysis.
- Lowe battery life.
- Short attention span.
The trust element is one of the biggest challenges. You need to gain employee trust in why you are using the wearable technology and how it benefits them. You need to be clear who has access to the information and what it will be used for. There is a cultural change associated with this and there will be a long learning curve to make this change.
Finally, one thing that really needs to be considered is what information is being shared back to the employee and when is this shared. If the wearable is identifying issues that could impact the employees’ health and wellbeing, that needs to be shared with them in a timely basis. Failure to do so could open the door to a new area of liability exposures.