Kevin McLoughlin, Partner & Co-Founder at MTech Capital sits down with Evelyn Bourke, CEO of Bupa to dive into how tech has transformed the business model and wider strategy.

Transcript

0:00

[Music]

0:06

evelyn welcome to this itc fireside chat

0:10

uh today we’re going to be discussing

0:12

the role of technology

0:14

in bupa strategy

0:16

can you give us some examples of how

0:18

technology has changed the way bupa

0:20

addresses the market or

0:22

changed internal business processes to

0:25

date

0:26

thank you kevin and really nice to be

0:29

with you today

0:30

so yes um

0:32

bupa has um has been on a journey of

0:35

embracing technology to improve customer

0:38

experience progressively over the last

0:40

number of years

0:42

and uh and that’s what you kind of

0:43

expect with all insurers but

0:45

particularly i think so with them health

0:47

insurers customers nowadays expect to

0:50

engage with insurers online and over

0:52

their mobile they expect to be able to

0:54

get quotes to get online and have their

0:56

check their claims history they click

0:58

check the status of their claims and

1:01

increasingly they only want to talk to

1:02

human beings when it’s a really complex

1:05

human issue rather than an admin issue

1:08

so

1:08

across bupa we’re on a journey to make

1:10

sure that that customer interface is as

1:13

frictionless as possible

1:15

and nowadays and 99 of our claims are

1:18

settled through electronic invoice

1:20

exchange

1:21

um with the providers

1:23

as well as obviously providing where we

1:25

have fulfillment directly with customers

1:28

they can get on and do it electronically

1:30

and we do that all across poop in the

1:31

different countries australia uk spain

1:33

saudi arabia

1:35

but um as well as that in spain because

1:37

of our unique footprint of hospitals and

1:39

clinics we’re developing a concept that

1:40

we call liquid hospitals

1:43

and it’s our hospitals without walls and

1:46

it’s basically using remote monitoring

1:49

and

1:50

clinicians available via call centers

1:52

such that customers can actually get us

1:54

um

1:55

more care in their homes and they don’t

1:58

have to come to hospitals and even

2:00

before cover 19 you know the reality is

2:02

hospitals are frankly some of the

2:04

unhealthiest places to be on the planet

2:06

because they’re full of sick people

2:08

um and even more so after cold 19 more

2:11

people want to actually have as much

2:13

care as they can without having to go to

2:15

hospitals so um our concept of liquid

2:18

hospitals is hugely attractive to um our

2:21

current and potential customers

2:23

and then another application of

2:24

technology for us is engaging with our

2:26

distributors and we um

2:29

distribute some markets where holy

2:31

retail and we deal directly with the

2:33

customer over the phone or over the

2:35

internet or over the mobile phone as in

2:37

australia and in other markets it’s a

2:39

mixture of dealing via brokers employee

2:41

benefit consultants and obviously also

2:43

bank assurance partners in some markets

2:46

but for example in the uk we have a

2:48

platform which enables all our broker

2:50

partners to get the quotes to track the

2:53

business to check their commissions to

2:54

monitor the whole

2:56

um nature of their relationship with us

2:58

um through the technology and again

3:01

that’s actually

3:02

been fantastically important through uh

3:04

code 19 oh and i should also add that

3:07

doing so over these platforms um with

3:10

robust information security means that

3:13

they are um they’re actually safer than

3:16

even the old style human to human over

3:19

the telephone uh

3:21

kind of contact what have you had to do

3:23

to make employees receptive to

3:26

technology i think what has helped us

3:29

along the way is

3:31

always standing in the shoes of

3:32

customers and being utterly focused on

3:35

creating a great customer experience

3:38

and some years ago as well uh we went

3:41

and we installed nps all across the

3:43

organization and that was a massive

3:45

customer change but if you use mps

3:48

to really um

3:50

understand in every interaction the

3:52

customer has with your organization

3:54

every touch point

3:55

and how is that experience for the

3:57

customer and what are the pain points

3:59

and then you use technology to help

4:01

solve for the pain points you actually

4:03

get your people seeing that it’s making

4:06

a huge um a huge difference but that’s

4:08

not to say people don’t feel nervous

4:10

about it and

4:13

you know the other areas where you do

4:14

want to see more technology applied are

4:16

in the back office operations you know

4:19

deep in the finance functions in the

4:22

um

4:23

in the you know admin areas

4:26

and

4:27

again it’s about demonstrating that

4:29

actually

4:30

what

4:30

technology is doing is it’s actually

4:32

enabling people to have more rewarding

4:34

jobs but it is something that is a

4:38

cultural shift that does require

4:40

continuous leader advocacy

4:43

um and does require you know kind of

4:45

making sure that down the organization

4:48

um

4:49

that all the leaders are signed up to

4:52

you know using the benefits of

4:53

technology to improve things for

4:56

customers

4:57

when you think about

4:58

uh the adoption of technology or just

5:01

first screening technology within the

5:04

organization do you look to be

5:06

kind of out ahead of the market or do

5:09

you look for

5:11

a

5:11

tech that has already been adopted and

5:14

can identify concrete use cases based on

5:17

what other insurers have done

5:20

uh we we tend to be more in the latter

5:23

and for um

5:25

for the reasons that we are

5:27

ultimately a very regulated business i

5:30

mean health and you know health

5:32

insurance and health care

5:34

um we’ve got huge regulation of uh

5:37

um from a solvency point of view from a

5:41

customer interface point of view

5:43

um health regulation and insurance

5:46

regulation also differs from country to

5:48

country and then you’ve also got all the

5:50

clinical regulation and layer on top of

5:52

that data privacy so for example in the

5:54

uk in the in europe in the last few

5:57

years we’ve gone you’ve probably heard

5:58

of gdpr

6:00

um we’ve been that’s a new data privacy

6:03

regime which is very onerous and very

6:05

exacting

6:06

and

6:07

therefore when we want to um deploy a

6:10

new technology at scale we have to have

6:12

a high degree of confidence

6:14

that that technology

6:16

will meet our security standards

6:18

um and will be reliable with sustained

6:22

operation resilience

6:23

uh so the um

6:25

we are you know very rarely going to be

6:28

at the bleeding edge of applications we

6:30

are more likely to be someone who’s

6:31

coming behind when something’s been

6:33

proven um to actually uh work at scale

6:37

yeah

6:38

i think that probably answers the next

6:39

question which is you know at what point

6:42

are you prepared

6:44

organizationally to work with a startup

6:47

so we’ve um i mean we’ve engaged um with

6:50

startups over quite a number of years

6:53

and we’ve run a number of programs where

6:55

you know we’ve

6:56

invited startups to pitch for

6:59

um different kind of customer problem

7:01

areas that they might be able to help

7:03

with and run processes to

7:06

screen down to a small number of

7:07

startups and actually have them come

7:08

into the business and work with us

7:10

and it’s been

7:12

um

7:13

it’s been a learning exercise for us and

7:15

indeed for the startups

7:18

in fact what it’s been a real spur for

7:20

us to is actually developing talent um

7:23

and growing talent in the organization

7:25

and also

7:26

um helping our people see what truly

7:29

agile

7:30

working can look like and

7:33

and you know some some of the startups

7:35

you work with they they’re very obsessed

7:37

about the particular customer problem

7:39

that they’ve actually um chosen to focus

7:41

on

7:42

and there’s power for us in actually our

7:44

people

7:46

experiencing firsthand that obsession

7:48

and working alongside the startups so

7:51

we’ve so our

7:52

successful kind of partner with startup

7:54

has been more in that learning um and

7:57

insights and talent development than

8:00

necessarily finding

8:02

an amazing application that somehow or

8:04

other you know can be um you know

8:07

leveraged at uh at scale across the

8:09

organization um

8:12

that’s what we so far that’s what we

8:14

have found has uh has has worked really

8:16

well for us

8:17

has technology played a role in how

8:20

bubba has

8:21

responded to the kovi pandemic i mean

8:24

the impact of covert 19 and accelerating

8:27

change and technology adoption

8:29

um has been huge i mean you know so

8:32

inside the organization we got our

8:35

office-based people switched to remote

8:38

working

8:39

inside three weeks from the point that

8:41

covert 19 really started um

8:44

to bite um and a few years ago someone

8:47

had said we’d do that either said you’re

8:48

crazy not possible

8:50

so we did that it’s worked really well

8:53

it’s been incredibly robust and

8:54

responsive and it’s driven within our

8:57

organization

8:58

huge usage of

9:01

the video consultation tools and also

9:03

people have become just that bit more

9:06

comfortable in operating in this kind of

9:09

digital and technology and enabled

9:12

fashion and it’s also probably driven

9:15

a greater degree of curiosity about what

9:17

more tools are out there and how could

9:18

we actually um do this even more um so

9:22

that’s kind of within side the organ

9:24

within the organization and then for

9:26

customers

9:27

um we had a range of remote and

9:30

digitally enabled services we had to

9:32

roll out further services like we

9:35

offered um

9:36

physiotherapy via

9:38

[Music]

9:40

video consultations

9:42

and we’ve rolled out um

9:44

general practitioner advice helplines um

9:48

available digitally in many different

9:51

countries in spain we took our video

9:54

conferencing our video consultation

9:56

application called blue which had only

9:59

been available

10:01

to um you know about

10:03

three or four hundred thousand customers

10:04

and have rolled it out to 1.2 million

10:06

customers

10:08

but i’d say probably the big um

10:11

breakthrough that we saw as a result of

10:13

covert 19 was the shift it caused for

10:15

clinicians

10:17

so we would have probably seen in

10:20

that clinicians were at this you know

10:22

they’re always young bright

10:24

digitally native clinicians who are

10:27

embracing technology but the vast

10:29

majority of clinicians prefer to operate

10:32

kind of in the old style a lot of face

10:33

to face

10:35

even when all they’re doing is advice

10:37

right they’re just it’s cute it’s a kind

10:39

of question and answer dialogue

10:41

um there’s no need for a you know hands

10:44

or

10:44

um but they still had this huge

10:46

preference for face-to-face

10:48

um force of circumstance as a result of

10:51

national lockdowns meant clinicians

10:52

desperately needed organizations you

10:55

know like ourselves to help them

10:57

um continue um supporting

11:00

um our shared customers as they went

11:02

through the particular you know health

11:05

experiences they’re going through

11:07

and they just got on it so quickly so um

11:10

that’s been absolutely massive and i i’m

11:12

i you know very hopeful

11:15

that this has um

11:17

uh triggered some lasting change and

11:19

that actually could actually really help

11:22

um deal with some of these enormous

11:24

challenges that we have in healthcare

11:25

today such as it’s hugely capital

11:28

intensive because it’s usually dependent

11:29

on bricks and mortar well if we use

11:31

digital you know there’s a lot more we

11:34

can actually get those

11:36

um encounters between clinicians and

11:38

patients which don’t need to be done in

11:41

a brick-and-mortar setting done

11:42

digitally that’s got to be good from the

11:45

capital

11:46

point of view

11:47

but the other thing we you know we all

11:49

know there really aren’t enough

11:50

clinicians in the world for the demand

11:51

that effectively is there

11:53

well digital

11:54

um and technology would enable

11:57

clinicians to actually look after more

12:00

customers because it kind of can

12:01

eliminate some of that dead time of

12:03

travel

12:05

um

12:06

and and also we know that digital

12:08

applications can help take some of the

12:10

drudgery of the admin

12:12

um away and enable clinicians to do more

12:15

of the kind of in-person

12:18

via

12:20

video and technology

12:22

than they would otherwise have been able

12:24

to do so you know we’re hugely excited

12:27

about the potential to help make health

12:29

care more efficient and look after more

12:32

people in the world

12:33

that’s a perfect segue you blend into my

12:36

final question which is um about the new

12:38

generation of health insurers

12:41

so alan in france oscar

12:44

or clover in the u.s

12:47

do you think that incumbents in those

12:49

markets

12:50

need to be worried and what what kind of

12:53

uh takeaways would you would you cite

12:56

with respect to

12:58

what what those um digital insurers are

13:01

are doing today that is relevant for

13:03

bupa

13:06

i absolutely believe that um incumbents

13:09

in in health insurance across the world

13:12

have to sit up and pay attention to um

13:15

to the new generation players like oscar

13:17

and alan and

13:19

clover

13:20

because what they’re absolutely focused

13:22

on is um really amazing customer

13:24

experience that point i was making

13:26

earlier on about making the customer

13:28

experience completely frictionless

13:30

making it possible for the customer to

13:32

do everything they want to do on their

13:34

mobile

13:35

and uh there’s no doubt that they um

13:38

because

13:40

these guys have all started with a green

13:41

field and a blank sheet of paper and and

13:44

they can design it from scratch and they

13:46

can be

13:46

completely rooted in what um will be an

13:50

amazing customer experience learning of

13:52

course from

13:53

you know the uh the the likes of the

13:56

googles and the amazons um of this world

13:58

so absolutely they uh they can um they

14:03

can appeal to a whole new generation of

14:05

younger customers who are very

14:06

comfortable digital they will also

14:08

appeal to

14:09

um

14:10

older people who have actually become

14:12

very used to you know digital um for

14:15

banking for shopping for booking travel

14:18

for managing their lives basically

14:21

and uh it means the stand the bar is

14:24

high for uh incumbent players now what

14:27

incumbents tend to have is because they

14:29

have um scale and they therefore they

14:32

have the leverage with you know the

14:34

hospitals and the clinicians

14:36

um and that’s enabled them to offer

14:39

competitive prices um but that’s a game

14:42

that you know the likes of um the oscars

14:45

in the land they can partner with um

14:48

other players to achieve a degree of

14:51

scale and if they bring their amazing

14:53

customer experience yes they are a

14:55

threat

14:56

to the incumbents but i’d like to see it

14:58

more like that um you know we’re all

15:00

learning from each other and uh great

15:03

competitors

15:05

are a huge spur

15:06

to innovation and to um to delivering a

15:10

better product for the end uh the end

15:12

customer so you know ultimately i see

15:15

the customer as as winning from all of

15:17

that

15:19

excellent

15:20

thank you evelyn bork uh ceo of bupa

15:25

great thank you kevin pleasure

15:29

[Music]

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