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Olga Sanchez

Olga SanchezCEO of AXA Spain

September 29, 2021

Covid-19 has Made the Public More Attuned to Wider Health Risks

The view from AXA – Q&A with Olga Sanchez, CEO of AXA Spain

Check out the 2021 AXA Future Risks Report

Health risks have long been underestimated in the Future Risks Survey, especially in comparison to technological and environmental risks. Until last year, when pandemic risk shot to the top of the ranking, no health risks had ever broken into the top five. In the 2020 report, we anticipated that the pandemic would lead to a lasting prioritization of health risks beyond Covid-19.

Read the full report

How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted access to healthcare?

Throughout the past year, we have witnessed how the pandemic has restricted access to routine healthcare. According to our report on Women’s Health and Covid-19, around 50% of women in Spain say they’ve not been for regular check-ups during the crisis, including cancer checks. This reduced access to healthcare will likely result in longer-term health problems, as well as more expensive care – especially if cases of cancer, diabetes, or heart disease go undetected or untreated. Strengthening prevention and protection is more important than ever.

What other long-term impacts do you foresee?

Pandemic-related isolation and precarity has led to an increase in stress, anxiety, and other mental health-related challenges. Mental health risks have long been on our radar, and Covid-19 has only intensified our concern. Assuring the mental well-being of both our customers and our employees is a key priority for AXA. There also remains a high degree of uncertainty regarding the future of the pandemic itself. Along with the question of whether vaccines can continue to win the battle against new variants, there remains much to be discovered regarding the prevalence and trajectory of Long Covid, a condition in which individuals experience symptoms for a prolonged period. The key to facing new challenges and long-term impacts posed by the virus will undoubtedly be to invest in science and research.

Were there any positives to come out of the pandemic?

Indeed, the pandemic accelerated our drive to put systems in place to improve preventive care and early diagnosis. We have also rapidly improved our ability to interact digitally with healthcare clients. As one of the world’s largest health insurers, we are able to test different ways of interacting digitally with clients, learn what works, and scale it up quickly – taking advantage of our large global footprint to develop local solutions for domestic markets.

Can you tell us more about these digital solutions?

We are observing that patients around the world are seeking out digital healthcare access, most notably in Spain, where, for example, nearly 50% of all women expressed interest in easier and faster access to medical professionals through telemedicine. This is one of the reasons why AXA partnered with Microsoft to launch a digital healthcare platform that provides access to an ecosystem of integrated services and simplifies the journey for people using it. On this one single platform, patients can use a self-diagnosis tool, have a teleconsultation, or book an in person appointment. We plan to roll out the first use cases of the digital healthcare platform in Spain in the coming months.

As CEO of AXA Spain, what are you most proud of?

Undoubtedly, it is to have made our purpose a reality every day. “Act for human progress by protecting what matters” is at the heart of what we do: protecting employees, customers, distributors, and society. We have strengthened our commitment to health through our vertical integration strategy with Igualatorio de Cantabria and a Medical Center in Barcelona. We have attended millions of claims and we have innovated to find solutions to unprecedented situations in the context of the worst world pandemic experienced in recent history. Finally, we have also been directly supporting healthcare workers and vulnerable populations through solidarity funds, food banks, and NGOs, as well as funding researchers who work every day to find solutions to combat Covid-19. We have every reason to be proud.

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