If you’re wondering what the jawbone and health insurance have in common the answer is probably nothing. If on the other hand you know that Jawbone is a brand and not a piece of your head the answer is “quite a lot”. A little while back we ran a piece on technologies that might be of interest to insurers and insurance brokers. One of the areas we singled out for improvement was health insurance. Here’s how the Jawbone Up can make a difference in this area.
What is the Jawbone Up?
The Jawbone Up is the invention of Hasain Rahman. It’s a wristband that’s chock full of interesting electronic items – that can monitor the health of the user. This is used in conjunction with an application that runs over smartphones that allows users to track other aspects of their life that relate to health; like the meals they eat (which the wristband can’t monitor – yet).
It’s a neat piece of equipment that’s currently targeted at people who want to work on their personal fitness. It’s not ridiculously expensive with an RRP (Recommended Retail Price) of about £109 and it should be available for sale in most Apple Stores.
It monitors a lot of detail from the distance you travel during a day, to your heart rate and it can even generate information about your sleep pattern. It integrates with a range of applications that center on developing fitness or losing weight.
At the moment the benefit to insurer’s is probably minimal. Though someone who is keeping an accurate track of the things they’re doing to be healthy is a goldmine of information for better classifying the risks associated with insuring their health.
What the Jawbone Up really promises is a better future. While there are a substantial range of neat devices buried within the wristband today in 5 years the technology will have matured and a whole additional bunch of tools should be available. Then the Jawbone Up (or a similar device) will be able to track blood pressure, blood sugar, location monitoring, skin acidity, body temperature, etc. too.
This offers insurers an enormous opportunity to start understanding the true risks of insuring a particular party. Rather than relying on tables of figures to predict a person’s likelihood of severe illness etc. you’ll have the data at your finger tips to do so.
Venture capitalists in the US who are the big investors in Jawbone Up are tabulating a proposal to US insurers to give away the technology to every single person that needs health insurance. This could eventually develop the largest health care information database in the world.
Risk management in the healthcare industry has never looked so easy or so appealing. Imagine the ability to accurately predict any form of morbidity model based on hard, empirical evidence. There’s also a potential secondary market in selling these predictions back to clients and then rewarding them through lower premiums for taking action to reduce specific risks.
Here at Riskheads we’re really excited by the Jawbone Up and we think insurance brokers should be too. We like to think that the EU’s pretty good at addressing privacy concerns around storing data like this which means brokers and insurers on this side of the Atlantic can focus on the upside of the technology without worrying about possible problems in the future too.