November 18

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Digital Solutions Paint An Efficient And Environmentally Friendly Portrait Of The Insurance Ecosystem

Every year, Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste. Plastic is everywhere, harming our environment, killing our wildlife, and surviving even the harshest conditions our planet can throw at it. Throughout all of this, the Government of Canada has stepped up and planned to reduce its carbon footprint and achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.

Their recent announcement is signaling they are banning many single-use plastic items, on everything from checkout bags to straws and six-pack rings, by the end of 2021. With this bold first step to completely eradicate plastic from our everyday lives, we can now add one more item to the growing list of what we want to see removed entirely – plastic drug cards.

Insurance companies are swapping plastic drug cards for a digital ecosystem

The Canada Life Assurance Co. eliminated plastic drug plan cards at the beginning of 2020 with their intent to move to a completely digital experience for group plan members by 2021. Nearly every carrier has since followed, and many won’t even issue a PDF card unless requested. Canada Life – among all other carriers – recognized that the plastic card falls under the one-time use category just like any plastic straw or water bottle would.

It’s becoming an unnecessary and antiquated feature to their plan because it’s just the identification number that is important here. This is just one feature in a growing list of outdated and unnecessary ones that is finally being toppled from the old plastic regime.

Searchable, digital formats have eliminated all paper products

Carriers are making a mandate to completely eliminate paper products from their world, by not issuing printed copies of employee booklets unless directly requested to do so.

Having an interactive document that can be searched and scanned easily on everything from benefits information, eligibility, costs and co-payments will make a smoother process around enrolment time. It’s a huge first step towards normalizing a digitally operated insurance ecosystem by leveraging these solutions to fit all organizational needs.

Digital claims management and enrolment are the new norm  

We are now seeing providers embrace the full digital spectrum. Members and employers have the ability to manage and submit all claims online with complete confidence.

There is a virtual benefit enrolment to manage employee eligibility better, and brokers can even administer benefits on behalf of their clients online. It’s movements like this shifting away from an antiquated system to protect the planet and provide a better end-to-end experience. Digital solutions make for real-time benefits management to be much more efficient and cost-effective.

E-signatures have proven their value throughout the pandemic

The reliance on wet signatures has long been a sticking point in the insurance world. When you can do virtually everything else electronically, banking, paying bills, and even signing legal documents, it’s always been a subject of discussion about why we can’t sign and accept insurance documents electronically as well.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to the discussion around completely converting to a paperless and secure process with electronic signatures. As of now, all carriers are accepting digital signatures, but some have said that they are only accepting them until the end of 2020. However, with social distancing and limited in-person meetings to continue into 2021, it’s likely that we will see this expanded to enable customers to sign documents electronically on computers and mobile devices without ever meeting in person.

The rise of online pharmacies

The online pharmacy evolution was inevitable for the wider healthcare community to have access and convenience for their prescriptions. Rising platforms like Amazon Care provide a virtual and in-person healthcare model through their telemedicine app, chat, and remote video. Or PocketPills home delivery saves time and money and is an easy way to fill Canadians’ prescriptions and help them better manage their medications. While pharmacies keep a digital record of a client’s insurance information, they are not available to the public.

Shifting to a completely digital ecosystem means that Canadians should be able to have the option to access their records, which is the case with CloudMD; a popular online telehealth platform. This helps provide full transparency, works to reduce waste while expediting the process for everyone involved.

One of the key silver linings from this pandemic is the redundancies, and useless waste we once accepted as a normal way of doing business can finally be moved on from as we strive to write a healthier chapter with our processes and procedures.

About the author 

Chris Gory

Chris Gory is the founder of Orchard Benefits (formerly Insurance Portfolio Financial Services Inc.), a brokerage launched in 1999 that helps companies build the best benefits programs for their employees. Chris is passionate about helping entrepreneurs, and works with over 60 startup companies including Wattpad, 500px, and VarageSale. He is an advisor at the Ryerson Digital Media Zone and at the OneEleven startup hub, and he's led talks about employee benefits and insurance at several startup accelerators including Extreme Startups. Chris has also been featured in the Toronto Star and The Globe & Mail, and he's been a member of the Board of Directors of the Applied Client Network, an international association of independent insurance professionals, since 2012.


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