Today's Mobile Tech Helping Insurance Industry Deliver Faster, Better Results Across the Board
Just about a year ago, the Nielson Company predicted the beginning of a new wireless era where smartphones will become the primary the device consumers use to connect to the Net, their friends and families, and the world at large. In fact, Nielson reports that by the end of this year, smartphones will outnumber standard phones (called feature phones) in the U.S. market. Currently, 40 percent of mobile phone owners in the U.S. own smartphones, but that number is expected to climb.
On the business front, Gartner reports that by 2013, mobile phones could easily surpass PCs as the way most people use the Net. A Morgan Stanley analyst recently predicted there will be 100 million iPhone users by the end of 2011, while the research firm iSuppli projects that through the end of 2012, Apple will sell more than 120 million iPads worldwide.
Heady stuff, without a doubt. But no surprise to Gordon Clemons, chairman of Irvine, Calif.-based CorVel Corporation, a national provider of disability management services and solutions. In the 23 years since Clemons launched CorVel, in fact, the company has specialized in applying information technology and applications to improve outcomes in the workers' compensation, auto and liability management insurance markets.
So rather than be overwhelmed by the new mobile technology, CorVel is a company that embraces it.
"We're seeing the same thing everyone else is seeing, and I am not sure if it's overhyped at all," Clemons says. "Watershed events such as this latest iteration of mobile computing come around maybe twice in a lifetime."
Clemons explains that the laptop computer was the first iteration of the new tech-fueled mobility for the insurance industry, and it was "pretty amazing." But looking back, he notes, it almost pales compared to the potential smartphones and tablets bring to the table.
"The first time I got a smart phone in my hands, it immediately made me think, 'This feels like something big,' " he says. "The statistics show that pretty much everyone will have a smartphone in their hands within two years and this is a tremendous opportunity for workers' compensation."
Of course, Clemons is especially excited with the potential impact that smartphones and tablets specifically will have on CorVel's business, especially in helping CorVel's clients and their employees injured in the workplace.
"Early intervention is a critical part of our business," he says. "Today, that is measured in hours instead of weeks and it keeps shrinking. The chance to get connected through mobile devices is obviously going to make a difference.
"The industry is learning how many people are mobile," says Clemons, who credits Apple CEO Steve Jobs with providing the vision and personality to this drive change. "If you're not sitting behind your desk, you are mobile. Apps make connecting easy. And all you need is a phone in your pocket."
Clemons admits that phrases such as "connecting to the cloud" can be very "buzzy," but he quickly adds that there is something exciting happening for workers' compensation. Clemons compares a well-connected and easy to access PPO network to some of today's social commerce services. For example, Groupon or similar services are reaching out into the world and bringing consumers to vendors and businesses.
"Our new PPO app is a good example of how insurers will work with CorVel to help bring patients to providers in the network," he says, referring to PPO Lookup, an iPad/iPhone app CorVel launched in September 2010. "Having a connected, easy-to-access PPO network will be valuable in helping injured workers get appropriate care as quickly as possible."
Looking back, Clemons says he certainly couldn't have predicted what has happened with today's new mobile platforms and devices. But Corvel built its initial website in 1999 with a vision of it being interactive with claimants and other constituents, rather than just offering a static, reporting website. So from the start, interactivity has been part of the CorVel technology strategy.
"Now, we have the opportunity to take service to the production level in our customers' operations, bring it to a much higher plane, and share knowledge with constituents," he says.
In CorVel's environment, employer representatives locally will be able to use smartphones or tablets to quickly enter claim data after an injury on the job, for example, allowing people within the company to be more easily involved and share information.
"We started by building an interactive database, and that is part of the pathway to making mobile computing doable," says Clemons, adding that CorVel has invested more than $200 million in new systems, technologies and people to develop better solutions for customers. "We want to be able to interface with individuals. Mobile computing offers the opportunity to enhance the injured worker's ability to benefit and interact, and more intermediaries will also be able to participate."
"We are building six apps right now," he says. "We're starting with the minimal marketable features, like our PPO Lookup app, which are simple to build. Then, we will continue our strategy by delivering new apps for claims processes such as intake and appointment scheduling."
Clemons adds that the primary benefit of claims apps is to use this new technology to get the process started much quicker and in a user-friendly way.
"A by-product is the ability to continue to reduce the percentage of lost-time claims," he says. "For employees, it can mean reduced claims costs and improved return-to-work outcomes."
Regarding the mobile tech tools looming, Clemons says the key is to not over-engineer, because CorVel needs to allow the people using the technology to easily follow the insurance aspects throughout the experience.
"Like all technology before it, today's mobile computing is a means to an end," Clemons says. "However, with these specific emerging technologies, it is incredible how fast things are moving and will continue to evolve."
For more information, visit corvel.com.
(The above piece is part of our continuing Insights series designed to highlight key products and services to our readers. This paid-for Insights was written and edited by Risk & Insurance®
on behalf of our marketing partner. Additional Insights can be found on our Web site at www.riskandinsurance.com/.)
March 30, 2011
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