Managing Director at Vitality UK
Preventative medicine and wellbeing have never been as popular as they are now, in the wake of the COVID pandemic. In fact, with medical services globally undergoing massive transitional shifts and treatment waiting lists for commonplace conditions at an all-time high, private health services, especially those which are delivered digitally, are in demand. Health insurers around the world are responding by developing rapid digital pathways for customers to access benefits.
Vitality health insurance is one such organisation. An insurance provider that offers health, life and car insurance, plus a range of investment options to its customers. It was originally founded in 2004 when a partnership between Prudential and Discovery, a South African insurer , was formed.
Vitality’s current Managing Director for Health, Dr Keith Klintworth, joined the company in 2010. At the time, Vitality had just acquired Standard Life Healthcare to drive forward the economies of scale and to increase its health membership base. By 2014, Vitality had bought out Prudential and was operating as a composite insurer across Life and Health insurance.
“We've gone from strength-to-strength,” says Klintworth with pride. As a healthcare expert with a 25-year career in medicine – during which he has worked in the role of both a Managing Director for the insurer and as a consultant anaesthetist – it's comforting to see this softly-spoken South African’s enthusiasm for Vitality offerings. After all, this is no ordinary health and life insurance operation: its leaders are doctors and the wellbeing of its customers is considered the paramount concern.
As part of this they have what they call the Vitality programme embedded into their products, he explains, an incentive-based behavioural change initiative that encourages personal behaviour change and incentivises people to make healthy decisions through rewards. Launched in 1997, the evidence of the programme’s success spans 25 years. As a result, the well-structured offering has plenty of data to back up the impact it has in driving positive behaviour change and the significant difference it has made to its members during its quarter-century tenure.
Personalised digital healthcare
The idea is that healthcare and coverage should be as personalised as possible so it can support people throughout all the health changes in their lives, minor or major, to maximise their health. In 2021, Vitality announced its data-driven approach to realise this. Called ‘Next Best Action’, the new initiative brings together Vitality’s data science capabilities with its expertise in understanding individual health risks to provide members with that one action that would have the biggest impact on their future health.
Ultimately, it's down to behavioural changes, incentivised by Vitality. Users are encouraged to alter their lifestyles and adopt healthier habits.
Technology plays a crucial role in everything Vitality does. A clear focus for the company is centred on using technology to improve customer experience, access and clinical pathways. It is also a powerful tool for their own employees.
“The key consequence of empowering one’s employees is that it drives service improvement and understanding of our customer’s needs. And why do I think that's important? Well, it's to build advocacy among the actual membership base,” says Klintworth.
He continues: “Businesses need to drive scalability, and economies are scaled through different technology use. You need to continually invest in technology because it is so important to our business.”
A bright future for digital health providers
As telemedicine and digital health providers find themselves in an increasingly receptive environment, the future is looking healthier than ever. “We have always been known as a disrupter in the health insurance market, approaching things differently, “ says Klintworth. “Using the data we collect to develop behavioural change incentives that support better health and wellbeing and reduce health risk will always set us apart.”
He adds: “Digital healthcare adoption is a revolution. We need to keep driving this revolution because, from a consumer perspective, I do believe it works best for the majority of people – that's really important to us. Concentrating on continuing to reduce future morbidity and mortality, and really giving people healthy life years, remains our key strategic focus.”
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