Sandrine CoulangeChief Health Officer, AXA Europe & Latin America
22 novembre 2022
The Covid-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated the digitization of healthcare systems and helped to decrease the digital divide. With in-person access restricted, health providers and patients, including the elderly, relied on remote consultations and online advice. However, insurers have been exploring and investing in digital health services for years. The future of healthcare involves a digital ecosystem of services that will create a more inclusive, sustainable healthcare system.
Although there is much variance in levels of integration with physical care and quality, digital solutions contribute to improving access to care for populations in rural areas and in developing countries, supplementing physical services, closing health gaps, and delivering advice and information to strengthen preventive care.
But digital tools are powerful beyond emerging markets and remote populations. Even in European countries with comparatively high access and quality of care, shortages of general practitioners and budget restrictions have led to increased medical waiting times and regional discrepancies. Furthermore, lack of access to mind health support is particularly acute in Europe, with digital services offering great potential to cover unmet need.
Chief Health Officer, AXA Europe & Latin America
To be effectively inclusive, digital healthcare solutions need to be designed to maximize access, adoption, and affordability.
The benefits of digital access to care. should not be overstated in a world where many lack reliable digital access. To be effectively inclusive, digital healthcare solutions need to be designed to maximize access, adoption, and affordability, especially among unconnected and underserved groups. This also requires careful design ensuring compliance to standards, ethics, and data privacy regulations.
AXA is pioneering a range of digital health services to serve these needs. One example is through AXA’s Digital Healthcare Platform (Healthanea), launched in partnership with Microsoft in 2020. The Healthanea functions as “pipes,” connecting different health services together to enable hassle-free and personalized patient journeys. To facilitate access, Healthanea was built as an open platform, adapting to the local healthcare systems and supporting an ecosystem of third-party service providers.
Digital services can also be tailored to support specific populations, for example, AXA France is developing a digital offering to support new parents, an often overlooked group with high needs that could benefit greatly from practical and wellbeing support.
Inclusiveness via digital healthcare systems cannot be achieved without trust on data and privacy. This is why AXA is building a strong consent management system in compliance with data privacy regulations.
If digital and physical are used in tandem, inequality of access can be significantly mitigated. A digital-first response system takes pressure off physical services, and digital services are often more affordable or even free. For example, in Italy and Spain, AXA’s digital symptom checker is available to everyone, not just AXA customers, simultaneously helping users understand what medical care they need and removing pressure on emergency rooms. To date in Italy, the digital health portal has attracted more than 1 million unique users, completed more than 40,000 symptom checker assessments, and performed more than 80,000 health facility searches. Additionally, AXA expanded access to remote teleconsultations during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic and has retained those services since.
Chief Health Officer, AXA Europe & Latin America
If digital and physical are used in tandem, inequality of access can be significantly mitigated.
Although one of the strengths of digital tools is their ability to transcend borders, they are in practice always adapted to the local context. Consider AXA’s symptom checker: while the same tool is used in each country, the user journey reflects the differing health systems. For example, in Germany, where AXA provides full insurance coverage and substitutes for public insurance, the symptom checker also becomes a coordination tool to connect with disease specific support programs. In Italy, where private health insurance is supplementary, it acts more as an entry point to primary care: teleconsultation or facility search and appointment booking.
To address local adaptability, digital health services have been launched in all markets where AXA health services are present. There are, however, challenges in terms of scale and viability that are exacerbated due to the impact of medical inflation on health systems. And integration is no small matter — digital systems, healthcare systems and insurance systems are all very different.
AXA’s digital health services are not only making healthcare more accessible but are also tools that can contribute to the sustainability of healthcare systems in the face of medical inflation and future shocks. Through collaborative, open, and thoughtful design, these services contribute to realize the true potential of digital health, and its role in a sustainable society.