The marriage between technology and faster underwriting is a union the life insurance industry has encouraged for many years.
Progress has been slow, but MIB Group is making headway, recently signing an agreement with Epic to utilize its electronic health records system. Under the agreement, MIB's 400 U.S. life insurance members will be able to access electronic health record (EHR) data via Epic's Chart Gateway for life insurance underwriting.
The hope at MIB offices is that Epic is the first of many vendors to sign on to the system, said Stacy J. Gill, MIB executive vice president.
“A person’s medical record is considered the gold standard for life underwriting data," he said. "And everything that has been developed over recent years, in terms of these predictive models and some accelerated methodologies, rely on nonmedical data that are, in effect, efforts to try and approximate what a medical underwriting result would look like for life insurance.”
The information exchange will occur only after express, HIPAA-compliant permission has been granted by the applicant. Chart Gateway is an Epic service that allows life insurance companies to request and retrieve medical records from healthcare organizations that license Epic's software and use Chart Gateway.
MIB announced its EHR data platform in April and said it would seek out vendors in a bid to improve the speed of life insurance underwriting.
'Swift, Accurate Underwriting'
The acquisition of a medical record, a crucial part of life underwriting risk-assessment, remains largely an inefficient paper process. The availability of healthcare information as a data stream is a critical advantage for insurers using rules-based decision engines for accelerated underwriting, said Lee B. Oliphant, MIB president and CEO.
“Serving today's life insurance consumer requires swift, accurate underwriting that only digital data can deliver," he said in a press release. "Structured digital data will be transformational for life insurers—improving consistency, supporting high-quality risk selection with reduced time-to-issue."
Owned by the insurance carriers it serves, MIB has the resources and the long-term commitment necessary to make electronic health data retrieval and delivery a reality for its members, Gill said.
"Electronic health data is obviously the long pole in the tent as far as underwriting goes," he said. "What we expect to happen is as we unlock more of these data sources, carriers and their partners will develop ways to use this data more rapidly in their underwriting process.”
MIB plans to expand its EHR footprint by partnering with as many vendors as possible to build a growing source of secure, patient-authorized electronic health data, Gill said.
“We’re not expecting this to transform the underwriting workflow overnight," Gill said. "We know this is going to take time to develop and implement the data sources. 2019 is for learning and 2020 is where I think you’ll really see those early adopters really begin to get a leg up on bringing that innovation online.”