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The potential of telemedicine in the inclusive insurance industry

Emerging Insight #:


Date of Release:

  November 5, 2020



The Microinsurance Network recently conducted a regional webinar on the potential of telemedicine: "Telemedicine -> Resilience". The webinar featured Salvador da Cunha, CEO of Affinity, Xavier Ruiz, Marketing and Communication Manager of Inmedical, and Laura Rosado, Strategy & Finance AXA Emerging Customers in AXA. Some highlights from the webinar are shared below.

Telemedicine is not something new or unknown to the insurance industry, but it is an issue that has gained greater relevance during the current pandemic. The mobility limitations of the population, the fear of contagion and the need to increase the response capacity of health services have all shown the importance of digital services as a solution to ensure the provision of medical services.

It is especially relevant for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, since it is a region in which the penetration of these services is still low. They are also the countries that do not have a health system with a structure to provide high-quality services for the most vulnerable segments. This has created a perfect opportunity for the insurance industry to promote telemedicine services, while complementing insurance and increasing the value of the products offered to their customers.

Telemedicine offers numerous benefits to the general population, especially the most vulnerable segments. Thanks to the use of technology, more affordable health services can be offered, more specialist doctors are available, barriers to access due to time and distance are eliminated, and the response capacity of the health sector is increased. On the other hand, telemedicine gives insurers the opportunity to redesign insurance and offer products that provide a more comprehensive support to clients, benefiting both the industry and people through strengthening a culture of self-care.

Despite the benefits that telemedicine can offer, its implementation poses great challenges for the insurance industry. There is still resistance among some patients and health care professionals to migrate services to digital platforms. This is either because of the distrust in such platforms, or because of intrinsic cultural preferences among the population. Still, designing and adapting products to meet particular needs can help overcome some of these barriers. For example, according to studies carried out by the company Affinity, 76% of patients in the region claim to be more concerned about prompt medical attention rather than having access to face-to-face care.

Finally, it is important to highlight that telemedicine services are not the solution to all the problems and needs of the vulnerable population. In fact, using technological platforms can be a barrier to access for populations that do not have the knowledge or technology to use these tools.

Despite the challenges that telemedicine brings, the insurance industry is not the only one with an interest in these services, and therefore it is instrumental that companies act quickly and actively, otherwise they could lose this opportunity.

Click here to access the event material.

Activities undertaken by the ILO’s Social Finance Programme on financial risk management associated with health-related risks are intended to complement the ILO’s position on social health protection and universal health coverage, which are the responsibility of the public sector. These innovation projects are aimed at testing new financial products and processes to extend health cover to unserved population groups and/or provide complementary benefits. The basis for such financial risk management innovation is captured in ILO Recommendation 189, which states the freedom “of Members to determine whether there is a need for supplementary measures as regards social protection, such as voluntary schemes, cooperative initiatives and others".