Related material matters and sustainable development goals
5. Leverage our capabilities to support resilient ecosystems
Sustainable Development Goals:
3. Good health and well-being
4. Quality education
8. Decent work and economic growth
11. Sustainable cities and communities
17. Partnerships for the Goals
Strengthening systems and inclusivity
Leveraging the power of technology
Discovery’s astute use of technology is essential to deliver value to medical schemes and their members. We have recorded a 6% decrease in real operational management expenditure in Discovery Health (measured on a per member per month basis from 2016 to 2019) across the 19 schemes we administer. Part of the reduction in operational expenses is by reducing call rates to our call centres; from a baseline set in 2016, call rates have dropped by 19%.
This has been achieved by providing clients with a variety of digitally enabled platforms to engage with Discovery, from our comprehensive website and Discovery app, to FAQs and the AI-driven Ask Discovery, a service bot available on WhatsApp. This frees up our call centre agents to focus on more complex and specialist queries, ensuring that our clients get the service they need.
For detail on investment into technology, see the 2020 integrated annual report.
As disclosed last year, Vitality introduced in-app health management. The app provides an exercise ring showing physical activity levels, as well as personalised modules targeting specific at-risk populations. In the Vitality base, 62.2% of members are currently engaging in the Health Checks module, 8 626 on Medicine tracker (with more than 72% of these being members with chronic heart diseases), and 71.6% of families engaging with the HealthyFood module.
For the exercise ring, 28% of goals are achieved, with a higher goal achievement rate of 33% for at-risk members in the Vitality base. On Medicine tracker, members with diabetes or chronic heart disease have a medicine collection goal achievement rate of 48% and 59% respectively.
Supporting our financial advisers
Discovery has introduced several digitally enabled tools to support our financial advisers. Through AI Quote, Discovery Invest provides tech-driven portfolio optimisation and quoting, delivered in a matter of minutes to assist our broker partners to see what a client’s investment would look like with Discovery in an optimised mix of funds with our unique boosts. It is available on lump-sum retirement annuities, preservers and living annuities. Brokers only need to upload a statement and review the information, and then a comprehensive investment report and quote is emailed to them. This technology enhances the efficiency of the quoting process and also addresses many of the legal challenges faced, through a streamlined digital process to optimise the client journey.
We have compiled a comprehensive library of documents covering the workings and legal considerations for buy-and-sell, key-person and contingent liability policies. This includes a business assurance encyclopaedia, explanatory videos and marketing support.
Through the Discovery Institute of Training portal, the Invest International Training Hub provides targeted support to financial advisers to assist their clients in setting up efficient and well-structured international investment portfolios. The Hub includes the advice of industry experts, and marketing and digital support to keep clients informed and support their efforts in building savings and investments.
Engaging with regulators and contributing to sustainable systems
Discovery operates in a complex regulatory environment where our regulators seek to ensure the viability of our sectors. We have a zero-tolerance culture for regulatory non-compliance and continuously engage with regulators on key issues impacting our business. We participate in policy development through several industry representative bodies and continue to make detailed submissions on key policy developments.
Key regulatory developments and engagements include:
The Health Market Inquiry report released in September 2019
The Health Market Inquiry did not make any direct recommendations regarding Discovery Health. However, it did provide important recommendations regarding improvements in the healthcare market in terms of regulatory oversight and engagement between market participants. Discovery Health continues to develop and promote alternative reimbursement models and value-based contracting, and has supported the Health Market Inquiry recommendations with respect to changes to the Health Professions Council of South Africa rules that would enable more meaningful contracting. Many of the Health Market Inquiry recommendations will need to be incorporated into regulatory changes to have effect. The Discovery Health submission to the Portfolio Committee on the National Health Insurance Bill, 2019 has noted the importance of progressing with these.
Draft Conduct of Financial Institutions Bill
Discovery has made extensive submissions via the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa, the South African Insurance Association and Business Unity South Africa. We support the application of consistent principles of financial sector regulation across all regulated entities, including medical schemes, and would support greater co-operation between the Council for Medical Schemes and financial sector regulators. The Council for Medical Schemes currently has capacity constraints arising from the exit of a number of senior managers and this has also heightened the need for this cross-sectoral support.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a number of weaknesses in the healthcare sector but has also demonstrated the opportunities for enhanced cooperation and collaboration. The relationship between Discovery Health and the regulator has improved considerably, with extensive engagement during the pandemic.
As a key stakeholder in improving health outcomes and efficiency, Discovery is a founding member of the Health Information Exchange initiative, called CareConnect. In February 2020, InterSystems was selected to implement HealthShare Unified Care Record and HealthShare Patient Index to securely provide unified access to vital patient information. InterSystems is a global leader in IT platforms for health, business and government applications.