New technology in claims and productivity management: Making sense of the blur

October 29, 2021

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By Stephen Elliott, MBA, JD, CISSP, CSM, SVP, IT innovation and decision optimization

You know the feeling of being in a car, hurtling down the highway and catching glimpses of the things of interest passing you by?

Sometimes that same feeling can hit you from a business technology perspective, too – like you’re looking out the window, seeing prospective new technologies and vendor solutions whizzing past in a blur, but not quite getting a clear and detailed picture of each one or its advantages. Today’s technology environment certainly appears to change quickly. Every year brings new lists of top technology trends in insurance and endless calls, emails and brochures advertising vendor capabilities and the promise of their ability to completely transform the way you do business with AI, ML, IoT or any number of new acronyms. It’s sometimes hard to focus on what’s most relevant for your organization.

As head of technology innovation at Sedgwick, I’ve been tasked for the last several years with understanding this technology. In many ways, I’ve had to become a sense-making guide, able to get out of the moving vehicle, do some sightseeing, and really spend time with the monuments to technology that would otherwise remain inscrutable.

In an ongoing blog series, I will attempt to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained in various key technologies relevant to the claims and productivity management industry. Without describing them all in detail, I can share Sedgwick’s experience with the innovations making an impact in insurtech today. This experience may help clarify the benefits your organization can see from these technologies, as well as one thing that vendors sometimes omit: the challenges you must account for when implementing them.

As with all broad topics, once you study them in depth and over a long period of time, patterns begin to emerge. These patterns, or key learnings, start to shape how you look at new technologies or new opportunities going forward. In my experience, several major patterns have emerged related to insurtech and innovation:

  1. Underlying technology capability does not change as quickly as it may seem.

    If you look at any number of lists of technology trends from 2016/2017, you will notice that not much has changed in the last five years. Significant new and emerging technologies are still there. Maybe some descriptions have changed, or some new buzzwords are being used…but the underlying foundational tech is the same.
  2. Experience with new technologies and how to implement them is key to success.

    While the baseline tech is not changing as quickly as it appears, the industry’s capability to implement these new technologies is improving dramatically. As these technologies mature, expect your competitors’ ability to effectively put them to use to grow, too. Your ability to understand what is important and how to implement it is what distinguishes your company from the rest of the industry. Finding a partner who “gets it” and can help navigate your path could be an extremely valuable competitive factor.
  3. Customer satisfaction/customer experience continues to be key.

    The customer experience or customer journey is a hot topic nowadays…but it fundamentally still just emphasizes what everyone already knows: the customer is king when offering a product, service or solution.
  4. The technology changes, but the purpose – automation – remains the same.

    Automation has been the underlying purpose of technology for over a century now. So long as humans are engaged in business processes, automation and associated reduced costs/increased speed and accuracy will remain a driver for new tech well into the future. In the claims industry, the advantage here is the ability for tech and automation to free up professionals to focus on the human, caring side of claims and to dig into the more complex elements of the process.
  5. Start with your problems.

    New technologies are, by their very nature, solutions to various problems you might or might not have. Because of the excitement and marketing generated around these technologies, many companies run the risk of wanting to invest in a solution…and then looking around for the problem. Fundamentally, technology is a tool to resolve your issues. While there are many benefits to implementing (and thus learning about) new tech, companies still need to remain grounded in prioritizing their own pain points, finding the right solutions and focusing on positive ROI. Beware you don’t walk around with a high-tech hammer that is looking for a nail.

At Sedgwick, we stay abreast of all the latest technology and are always looking for new ways to enhance the claims process. However, these enhancements are never considered pure technology implementations. It is the combination of a strong operational team, adjusters, case managers, investigative teams, numerous specialists and years of experience in claims and productivity management that allows for successful enhancement of the claims process through new tech innovation. We’re focused on using technology to streamline and improve the process without losing the “human touch.” While it is important to push the boundaries and understand where limits can be broken, it is the sign of success when that knowledge is used most effectively for complete success and not solely for “living on the edge.”

Follow our tech journey and look for additional posts in the future as we explore and explain the latest innovations that could make the difference for your program.

Tags: automation, Care, Care + Advocacy, Caring counts, Consumer experience, Customer experience, Innovation, Insurtech, Technology, Technology + Consumer experience