Healthy and responsible products and services

Encouraging behaviours that promote better health, safer driving and financial wellbeing

1. Deepen the social impact of our products and services.

  • Leverage product design and innovation to drive social good.
  • Scale our businesses to achieve greater impact.

3. Leverage our capacity to support resilient ecosystems.

  • Support national objectives to enhance market sustainability.
  • Reduce the cost of healthcare and the burden on public healthcare infrastructure.

Deepening the social value of our products

In scaling our business globally to achieve Ambition 2023, we have retained our commitment of being a powerful force for social good, which is underpinned by the positive impact of our Shared-Value business model.

Trends underpinning the increasing relevance of the Shared-Value business model include:
Societies require companies to fulfil a socially progressive core purpose
Consumers live in a technology dominated world and seek solutions instead of services
The nature of risk is behavioural, and solutions are becoming increasingly personalised.

Our Vitality One platform is a globally unified systems architecture that markets can access, allowing rapid and economical deployment to our partners. Through Vitality One, we are increasing the positive behavioural impacts of the Vitality programme globally by:

  • Enabling more frequent engagement between our insurer partners and their customers
  • Leveraging increasing quantities of data gathered from insurers across different countries to improve and develop new models
  • Providing our partners with access to increasingly accurate insights on what behaviours and incentives achieve the best outcomes and greater social impact.


Our core markets of South Africa and the United Kingdom have led the way in deepening social value. In South Africa, we are using our unique approach to healthcare insurance to provide products that protect and enhance the lives of people across the socio-economic spectrum, including young people. This is helping to make healthcare accessible to a broader market  and further alleviating the burden on public healthcare. This includes:

  • Discovery Health’s strategic objective to become the lowest cost administrator, with ongoing investment in technologies to optimise operational efficiency and service levels. This not only supports better business and member satisfaction, but lowers costs.
  • 8.81 member satisfaction score in Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS)
  • 80% first call resolution
  • 3 483 468 total lives covered across open and closed schemes (at 28 June 2019 )
  • R73 million paid from DHMS and select closed schemes in extended benefits
  • In DHMS members pay an average of 16.5% less than they would at the next eight largest open schemes.
  • Discovery KeyCare, an affordable medical aid option that is combined with KeyFit to give access to wellness facilities, incentives and tools to encourage healthier behaviour
  • 237 368 average number of KeyCare members for the year to 28 June 2019
  • 7.8% lapse rate in KeyCare members, an increase from 7.4% in June 2018
  • 17 135 KeyFit members
  • Discovery Primary Care is a unique healthcare product that enables employers to provide employees and their families with affordable quality private healthcare and wellness management at a cost that is acceptable to employees at all income levels.
  • 46 772 Primary Care members
  • Vitality Move brings our leading Vitality programme to the mass market.
  • Vitality Open ran from October to November 2018 to broaden access to the Vitality programme and its rewards to all South Africans with a smartphone for no cost. You can read more about Vitality Open in ‘Extending the possibilities of rewards’ below..

We announced Discovery Bank in November 2018 with a broad target market across all segments. Irrespective of income level, healthier financial behaviour will benefit clients through higher interest rates on savings and positive balances as well as lower rates on credit.

Promoting better health

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases, diabetes and certain cancers continue to place an increasing burden on healthcare systems across the world. The cause of these 'lifestyle' diseases includes behaviours such as physical inactivity, smoking, substance abuse and poor nutrition – although genetic, environmental and even psychological factors also play a role.

Rapidly increasing rates of NCDs not only drive up costs and overload healthcare systems, but also negatively impact economic productivity. The World Health Organisation estimates that for every 10% increase in NCD mortality, economic growth is reduced by 0.5%.

The benefits of physical activity include a lower risk of some of the major non-communicable diseases, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. In addition, physical activity can have positive effects on maintaining healthy body weight and mental health, with insufficient physical activity associated with a substantial global economic burden.
- Incentives and physical activity: An assessment of the association between Vitality’s Active Rewards with Apple Watch benefit and sustained physical activity improvements. 

Marco Hafner, Jack Pollard & Christian van Stolk. RAND Europe.

Vitality’s success in engaging our members to reduce health risks and associated healthcare costs is demonstrated in the differentials between Vitality status levels. As per the graphs below, the higher a member’s status, the lower their mortality experience, and when they are hospitalised, the higher their status, the lower the claims experience.

Normalised expected
assumption by Vitality status

The link between Vitality
engagement and health claim costs

When integrated with Vitality, Discovery Life’s Shared-Value Insurance model also promotes better physical outcomes. With 80% of Discovery Life’s customers also being members of the Vitality integrated products, we have built up a pool of healthy lives – mortality experience for highly engaged clients is 75% lower than for clients who do not actively engage in managing their health. Our unique value proposition has also led to significantly improved persistency for engaged clients, who exhibit lapse rates that are more than 45% lower than clients who do not engage in the Vitality programme.

Extending the possibilities of rewards

The launch of the new Vitality Active Rewards platform in November 2018 continues to enable Discovery’s ability to engage regularly with our members, and has increased Vitality’s reward offerings, including new partners, various reward levels for MoveToGive, and the extension of the Vitality programme to the South African public through Vitality Open.

The Vitality Open was a 10-week campaign that was available to all South Africans with a smartphone to heighten awareness about the benefits of physical activity. We incentivised activity using the same Vitality platform, by extending Vitality Rewards for achieving fitness and driving goals.

We worked closely with our partners to extend these health and wellness benefits to the over 550 000 South Africans who participated. With activity tracked across steps, gym visits, park runs as well as driving behaviour, we recorded a 34% increase in physical activity across new participants and 29% of new participants improved their driving behaviour substantially. Discovery paid out over 50 million Vitality Reward Points over the Vitality Open. Considering that exercise for three days a week or more is linked to a 33% reduction in mortality, Vitality Open demonstrated shared value in action. The Vitality Open generated great excitement with our partners and strong media interest, extending awareness on the benefits of healthy behaviours.

In recognition of the link between physical activity and reduction of non-communicable diseases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has established the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018–2030, which aims to promote physical activity, provide updated guidance for countries and establish a framework of effective and feasible policy actions to increase physical activity at all levels (WHO, 2018).

As a commitment made last year, we continue to involve as many South Africans as possible in turning the tide against non-communicable diseases, and Vitality’s emphasis on moving more and eating healthily is part of that journey. Vitality Move, launched in 2017, provides affordable access to Vitality rewards and discounts with selected partners, and we continue to refine the offering to drive engagement and improved health outcomes for our clients. Part of this is in reducing all activation fees, including at gyms to increase access.

Vitality published The Road to a Healthier South Africa in 2018 to combine results from the Fittest City Index and the Drive Well Index. It uses data analytics, clinical knowledge and behavioural insights to provide unique views of South Africans’ physical activity and driving habits, and was widely distributed to external health providers and partners, as well as the media to help mobilise individuals, groups and policymakers to create a healthier, safer and more active country.

Access the full report here

The Vitality Health Check is a simple and convenient set of essential health tests of:
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood glucose
  • Cholesterol
  • Weight assessment, which includes weight, height and waist circumference
  • Smoker status.

These five measures are key to assessing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

We performed over 350 000 Vitality Health Checks in our 2019 financial year through accredited Vitality Wellness Centres, pharmacies in the Vitality Wellness Network, at Discovery Wellness Days or at Discovery Stores. We are working to reduce the costs and scale up the number of Health Checks, with an aim of achieving one million Vitality Health checks per year by 2020.

why choose discovery insure car insurance couple outside car

Technology is a key enabler for us to broaden access and provide more cost-effective and affordable healthcare. During the year, we further enhanced the Discovery mobile app by adding the ‘find a healthcare provider’ function. This allows Discovery members to find general practitioners, medical specialists, hospitals or pharmacies, along with tips, details on cover through Discovery, and address and contact details.

As a key stakeholder in improving health outcomes and efficiency, Discovery is a founding member of the Health Information Exchange initiative, called CareConnect. A memorandum of understanding in collaborative governance, decision-making and resource sharing has been completed and planning for a pilot is currently underway. The initiative aims to securely provide health information sharing services to enhance healthcare consumer engagement and experience, as well as lower healthcare costs for all South Africans.

As reported last year, DrConnect is a digital platform available through the Discovery app or website, where participating medical scheme members can search a growing library of over five billion doctor-created answers to common medical questions or conduct a virtual consultation with a doctor in the network using voice, text or video. 

Discovery HealthID, our patient health record platform, shares important information with healthcare professionals selected by patients to give a more complete view of their health history and test results. This improves patient care and reduces the likelihood of serious medical errors, and duplicate or unnecessary pathology tests. In addition, HealthID also reduces the administrative burden for doctors by making it quick and easy to for them to complete Chronic Illness Benefit applications, and provides them with the relevant scheme formulary list. We continue to see consistent engagement on the platform and track the number of members who have given consent for their health records to be accessed.

Our continued focus on innovation and technology is important in driving internal efficiencies and productivity, but in the world of our members, it provides more seamless interaction with key healthcare touchpoints and information sources for a more empowered healthcare consumer.

Also, improvements in technology allow for increased verifiability of member activity levels, supporting the sustainability of the Shared-Value business model that incentivises members for healthy behaviours. Vitality has introduced in-app health management for at-risk members with personalised nutrition, preventative screening, weight management and the medicine tracker.

Discovery Health’s updated vision statement is "to be a powerful force for social good by partnering with health professionals and all other healthcare providers to provide universal coverage within a sustainable public and private healthcare system."

We continue to identify healthcare providers who are delivering exceptional care and rewarding them with positive recognition through the Patient Survey Score (PaSS). This rates the quality of care received by participating Medical Scheme members at hospitals and incentivises further improvement on the part of hospitals for the benefit of all patients, including Discovery members. PaSS had over 77 962 cumulative views since it was launched in 2015.

To enhance clinical quality (through lower risk of hospital-acquired infections) and decrease healthcare costs, Discovery Health is driving greater use of day theatres for certain procedures, which is consistent with international trends. We have been engaging extensively with various medical societies and hospital providers to manage this shift, including a number of roadshows conducted by Discovery Health CEO, Dr Jonathan Broomberg.

As part of Discovery’s risk assessment processes, we also consider risks related to health, aging populations and demographic changes, as well as obesity and other emerging health issues, including mental health.

We provide specialised programmes to help members and their physicians to actively manage and navigate care for specific conditions, including cancers, HIV, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and depression. These programmes support the coordination of care across all stakeholders in a complex healthcare delivery chain, ultimately providing more cost-effective care.

In leveraging our leading ability in managed healthcare, we support the principle of equitable access to healthcare coverage for all South Africans. Our KeyCare plans continue to provide more affordable access to quality private healthcare at contributions based on monthly income level.

In conjunction with increasing awareness in the UK on mental health issues and backlogs in treatment in the National Health Service (NHS), VitalityHealth is contributing to both a deeper understanding of the issue and providing new treatment pathways for its members.

From an awareness perspective, Vitality’s Britain's Healthiest Workplace survey (which stands as one of the most comprehensive surveys on health and wellbeing in the workplace) is generating unique and broad insights into mental health, including in the areas of stresses related to work, home or finances. These insights are adding to the evidence base around the effect of the work environment on mental health.

From a treatment perspective,  we launched a new pillar in the Vitality Wellness Programme in August 2018 focused specifically on the promotion of good mental wellbeing, called Healthy Mind. Interventions in the Healthy Mind programme include meditation and mindfulness behaviour, which is tracked through mobile apps. Since the introduction of Healthy Mind, over 30 000 Vitality members have engaged in mindfulness through the benefit, recording over 500 000 sessions. In addition, the Vitality programme recognises the strong relationship that exists between physical and mental health, and we therefore continue to promote physical activity as part of a set of interventions that can support good mental health.

We've also expanded our Mental Health Cover within Individual and Group Health Insurance plans, to make it easier for our members to access appropriate care. In this regard, every VitalityHealth member, whether on an Individual, SME or Corporate policy, now has access to eight sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or counselling through Vitality’s Talking Therapies benefit, with a more comprehensive Mental Health module being optional for members to purchase.

At a VitalityHealth level, we are assessing our global approach to mental health, including mental health assessments, expanded or dedicated mental health products, and a greater focus on assessing and promoting the complementary benefits of physical health and mental health in overall wellbeing.

why choose discovery insure car insurance couple outside car

Incentivising safer driving and healthier businesses

Better drivers mean fewer accidents and safer journeys for our clients and others on South Africa's roads. Discovery's commitment to "reduce harm on our roads through improved driving behaviour" is driven by monitoring and incentivising adherence to key principles: avoiding speeding, harsh acceleration and cornering, and being more aware while driving (with no phone use and observing a safe following distance). We continue to see the positive impacts with the frequency and seriousness of accident claims being reduced for those with a higher Vitality Drive status.

Relative average car accident claim
amount by Vitality Drive status

Relative number of car accident claim
amount by Vitality Drive status

Discovery Insure drivers also have 60% fewer road fatalities than general South African drivers

The telemetry technology we install is key to measuring and rewarding good driving behaviour and we are working to reduce the cost of the device. The technology and data also support other safety features, like alerting you when we detect that it's not you driving the car and detecting if you've had a collision to proactively send emergency services.

Discovery Insure’s commercial business, Discovery Business Insure, is extending our insights on incentivising good driving behaviour into commercial operations.

Our SafeDrive partnership with car-rental company Avis continues to show substantial benefits in reducing damage claims. Available to Avis car rental customers, the SafeDrive app uses Discovery Insure's Driver Quotient telematics technology and its behavioural app-based solutions to improve driver behaviour and make South African roads safer. Avis recorded a 39.9% reduction in damage savings between February and April 2019.

In updating our objectives for Ambition 2023, Discovery Insure aims to create a nation of great drivers and build better businesses. We directly support South Africa’s National Development Plan by focusing on key road safety initiatives – Safe Travel to School (discussed in the section: Healthy and prosperous communities) and
SEE ME, a campaign launched in February 2019 to make school children more visible on our roads through using reflective gear.

why choose discovery insure car insurance couple outside car

Healthier businesses for healthier economies

Businesses today face a range of constantly evolving, complex and often intangible risks driven by the pace of technological change. Along with physical risks such as property damage, emerging risks such as reputational damage (in an increasingly digital and social-media oriented market) are also becoming a significant concern for businesses.

Discovery Business Insurance is focused on building better and healthier businesses. We offer clients unique benefits across property, accident, motor and other business liability claims, built on the premise that businesses with good financial performance and successful operations have a lower insurance risk. We provide powerful incentives and benefits to businesses to help them grow, reduce their insurance costs and manage their risks.

Healthier businesses also benefit South Africa as a whole as they contribute to higher economic growth and employment. Discovery Business Insurance caters for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Our product innovations are focused on delivering shared value to this vital segment of the market, which is key to supporting economic growth and activity in South Africa.

Discovery and Endeavor South Africa (a non-profit organisation with 20 years of global experience in supporting high-impact entrepreneurs) have co-developed a diagnostic tool for clients to assess the health of their business. It is based on a global benchmark of key indicators for business success, and provides actionable insights and recommendations for SMEs. We support positive change by providing preferential rates from a collection of world-class service providers, such as cybersecurity solutions from AVeS Cyber Security and talent and skills development programmes provided by the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).

Endeavor aims to catalyse long-term economic growth by selecting, mentoring, and accelerating high-growth companies that are ready to scale locally and globally.

"Endeavor inherently aligns with Discovery's shared value insurance model, which is focused on building better businesses. Better businesses drive economic growth and job creation. In partnering with Discovery we can leverage our global insights and methodologies to reach and support a wide range of businesses and help them to thrive."

Catherine Townshend, Managing Director of Endeavor South Africa

To protect the wellbeing of South African SMEs, Discovery Business Insurance has launched key innovations alongside its standard MultiMark offering, including:

  • Cyber cover
  • Cover for reputational or crisis management
  • Social media cover
  • Vitality Drive.

This supports the resilience of SMEs against these emerging risks, especially where they may not have dedicated internal resources to manage the risks adequately. We have also launched The Healthy Business Show, a podcast series featuring Barry Swartzberg, co-founder of Discovery and CEO of Vitality Group. The podcast gives all entrepreneurs insight into how to achieve success and build healthier businesses for a thriving South Africa. 

Supporting financial wellbeing

Rewarding healthy financial behaviour

The low savings and retirement funding gap in South Africa can be considered a national crisis, with only 6% of the population having adequate retirement funding. Without it, people only have three options: being dependant on the state, their children or grandchildren, or debt; none of which are sustainable options. Also, the impact of market turbulence is dramatic on investors, pension funds and people trying to build up their retirement savings.

To close the retirement funding gap and help our members achieve financial independence, Discovery Invest rewards heathy financial behaviour by encouraging our members to save more, save earlier, retire later and drawdown as little as possible during retirement. Integrated across other products, we give our members bonuses on their investments if they live healthier, drive better and, through Vitality Money, manage their finances better. Essentially, we help our members earn additional returns, beyond market performance, just by living well.

In 2018, we rolled out an Umbrella fund product line to corporates, extending shared-value investment impact to corporate clients and their employees.

Investec Asset Management is nominated by Discovery Invest to manage our unit trusts. Investec has a comprehensive environmental, social and governance policy. It is a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment and endorses the Code for Responsible Investing in
South Africa.

Discovery Invest has seen significant behavioural change in clients since introducing products that reward them for making sound financial and health decisions. On average, clients are investing two years earlier, improving their Vitality status and in turn their health, and reducing their yearly retirement income drawdown rates by more than 2%. The impact of this positive behaviour change is substantial, resulting in clients receiving approximately 50% more in their fund value in retirement.

R5 billion

Discovery rewards paid*

R7 billion

Discovery rewards accrued*

*Rewards given for beneficial behaviours (saving earlier, getting healthy and withdrawing less) through boosts to investment amounts or a reduction in fees.

Life insurance that rewards a healthy lifestyle

Discovery Life has shifted the focus of life insurance to reward clients for living a healthy lifestyle, rather than just paying out in the case of a life-changing event. This enables clients to actively derive value from their life insurance policy.

The surplus generated by policyholders manifests in a range of unique benefits and financial rewards including Discovery Life’s PayBack Benefit, which provides clients with a percentage of their premiums. To date, Discovery Life has paid approximately R5 billion to its clients through the PayBack Benefit.

Discovery Life continues to build on the Shared-Value Insurance model and promote financial health through the launch of enhanced rewards with the introduction of Discovery Bank and Vitality Money.

We understand that insurance products can be complicated and clients can be left wondering what they need to disclose and what their policies actually cover. As a result, Discovery Life has simplified our application form to be very clear about our cover and benefits, and what exactly needs to be disclosed to ensure the benefits are realised in the event of a claim. We've instituted extensive training across our broker and agent network to make sure they have the knowledge to support members and prospective members.

Cummulative paybacks

We have also restructured the anniversary letters that we send to members. While these still include the contractual details, we highlight the key information that a member needs most – from how much they are insured for across different products, key plan features and how these integrate across all their Discovery products. If a member makes a change to a plan, we also automatically notify them about the impact this will have across all their Discovery products. These changes are helping our members to better manage their financial wellbeing.

Innovation in our businesses, products and services

Innovation is part of Discovery’s DNA. We operate research and development labs in all the businesses, with executive oversight, and contribute actively to knowledge building and information sharing. With two sets of product launches each year, we keep a strong focus on innovation.

We are leveraging technology and partnerships to simplify and enhance how we interact with our clients on each platform. For example, to reduce the amount of paperwork required from clients, Discovery is linked directly to various government departments and other banks to automatically validate information like proof of residence and bank account details, and provide online credit and anti-money laundering checks.

As a fully digital bank, Discovery Bank is accelerating the trend towards a cashless society. This reduces the costs, complexity and risks of cash in the supply chain (including minimising theft and cash-in-transit heists) and enhances fraud detection.

With the growing challenges currently facing funding for education, existing education protection mechanisms fall short in accurately matching these evolving needs. Discovery Life’s innovative Global Education Protector is meeting these challenges by not only protecting members’ children at every stage of their education journey, but also funding up to 100% of their tertiary education costs, even if no claim is made by simply leading a healthy lifestyle, this percentage is based on your children's age when you take out the policy and the benefit option you select. This way, Discovery Life makes access to higher education possible, even if there is a life-changing event for a family. The product was recognised globally for its innovations and received the runner up prize for disruptive product or service category at the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2018.

Recent advances in medical technology play a crucial role in sustaining health and longevity. Areas like biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and the development of medical devices and equipment have made significant contributions to improving the health of people globally. Although innovation in medical technology is advancing and contributing positively to society, they are often inaccessible due to financial barriers. Discovery Life has responded to medical technological innovations by enhancing the LifeTime Capital Disability Benefit product, which includes the MedTech Booster to provide additional pay-outs to assist members in accessing cutting-edge assistive medical devices on complete or partial permanent disability.

MoveToGive: Crowd-sourcing kindness

In a world where obesity and chronic lifestyle diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent, we’re developing creative and mutually beneficial ways to promote good health.

The Vitality Active Rewards programme incentivises members to stay active every day. And through it, Discovery is now linking healthy behaviour with philanthropy to raise significant funds for various charities. This is enabled by Active Rewards, where members can choose to donate their rewards to a specific cause through MoveToGive campaigns. The new Active Rewards platform launched in September 2018 has allowed members to donate higher value rewards through MoveToGive.

Since the launch of MoveToGive in 2015, a total of over R13 million has been donated to various causes with a positive impact on over 400 000 lives in South Africa and neighbouring countries. In 2018 alone, over R4 million was donated to causes including:

 Donating bikes for nurses in Soweto with Qhubeka

 Donating sanitary packs to schoolgirls in need with the Dis-Chem Foundation

 Donating over 42 000 meals to children in need with FoodForward SA

 Donating to the Reach for A Dream Foundation

 Supporting drought relief efforts in the Makhanda area in the Eastern Cape in partnership with Gift of the Givers

 Contributing towards children's counselling and play therapy sessions at the Johannesburg Parent and Child Counselling Centre.

This kind of crowdsourced philanthropy aligns strongly with our Vitality Shared-Value business model, which seeks to benefit all stakeholders – members, through better health; insurers and investors, through reduced risk; and society as a whole, through healthier citizens and charitable initiatives.

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2018 commitments and progress

2018 commitment

  • We’ll improve member health through active prevention and self-management.

  • We’ll increase access to more cost-effective and affordable healthcare.

  • We’ll create a nation of better drivers.

Our progress in 2019

  • Vitality One is allowing rapid and economical deployment to our partners globally. Discovery Health’s strategic objective is to become the lowest cost administrator, and provides affordable options including Discovery KeyCare and Discovery Primary Care.
    Deepening the social value of our products

  • Discovery Insure drivers continue to experience far fewer road fatalities than general South African drivers. We are extending our impact to commercial businesses through the Vitality Drive feature in Discovery Business Insure and our SafeDrive partnership with Avis.
    Incentivising safer driving
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