Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why aren't Indian health insurance companies investing in patient education ?

Today, health insurance in India is focussed purely on collecting the premium; and paying the medical fees when the patient falls ill. Unfortunately, there is little being done to help customers remain well . Aborad, insurance companies realise the high cost they have to bear as a result of chronic diseases ( such as diabetes , obesity and hypertension) which are primarily life-style disorders; and are taking proactive steps to ensure their customers remain healthy. Corporates are also investing in employee wellness programs, because this directly affects their
bottom-line !

As the cost of medical care goes up, medical insurance coverage is going to become increasingly important for India’s huge middle class population. This challenge actually presents a significant opportunity for the health insurance industry which can change the face of the healthcare industry by making it more patient-centric ! Indian patients are becoming increasingly articulate , and they want more information about their medical problems. Unfortunately, their doctors do not have the time to provide them with this. Patient education has been a neglected area in India so far, and this lacuna represents a major opportunity for the insurance company which has the vision to realize the importance of owning this area . This is a significant value addition to your customers – and even ends up saving you money on their policies , as they are less likely to fall ill !

In the USA, a growing number of health insurance companies are providing their customers access to patient education in order to reduce the cost of their disease expenses. An excellent example is the CIGNA HealthCare Web site at www.cigna.com. “ Information is the best prescription”, and Information therapy ( the right information to the right person at the right time) can be very powerful medicine !

Many studies have proven that a dollar spent on patient education ends up saving the insurance companies over 10 dollars ( for example, by preventing unnecessary surgery).

Patient education is a powerful tool to promote health, manage chronic disease, prevent medical mistakes, achieve patient-centered care, improve health care system efficiencies, and improve the overall quality and experience of patient care.

Can't the Health Insurance companies see the forest for the trees ?

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