Mental Health Startup Uses Voice ‘Biomarkers’ To Detect Signs Of Depression And Anxiety

Young female character having a panic attack, an imaginary monster shadow silhouette, mental health issues, psychology

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” Rima Seiilova-Olson says slowly and emphatically over Zoom.

The simple sentence holds enormous value for mental health care, she explains, smiling as if to acknowledge that it might be less than obvious how a silly phrase could be so meaningful to a computer programmer and leader of an artificial intelligence startup.

The short saying contains every letter of the alphabet and phoneme in the English language, says Seiilova-Olson, an immigrant from Kazakhstan who is cofounder and chief scientist of Kintsugi Mindful Wellness. Kintsugi believes these sounds offer invaluable insight that can help mental health providers better support people with depression and anxiety.

The Bay Area-based company is building AI software that analyzes short clips of speech to detect depression and anxiety. This so-called voice biomarker software is being integrated into clinical call centers, telehealth services and remote monitoring apps to screen and triage patients reaching out for support, helping providers more quickly and easily assess their needs and respond.

“There’s just not a lot of visibility as to who is severely depressed or anxious.”

Kintsugi CEO and co-founder Grace Chang

Seiilova-Olson, 36, first met co-founder and CEO Grace Chang, 40, a Taiwanese immigrant now based in Berkeley, in 2019 at an open AI hackathon in San Francisco. Surprised to cross paths at a male-dominated event, the women began comparing notes about their respective personal challenges trying to access mental health care:

Seiilova-Olson had struggled to secure a therapist during postpartum depression with her first child, and when Chang had needed her own support, she said it had taken months for anyone from Kaiser to call her back.

“Living in the Bay Area, you can push a button and a car can come to you or food can come to you,” Chang says. “But this was really a challenge.” As engineers, they viewed the dilemma differently than clinicians might.

“We saw this as an infrastructure problem, where you have so many people trying to jam through that front door,” Chang explains. “But there’s just not a lot of visibility as to who is severely depressed or anxious, who is low-to-moderate. And if we could provide this information to those frontline practitioners, then we’d maybe have an opportunity to greatly alleviate that bottleneck.”

Kintsugi was born out of that idea in 2019. It sits in a competitive space of health tech startups like Ellipsis Health and Winter Light Labs that are using voice biomarkers to detect mental health or cognitive issues, built on research showing that certain linguistic patterns and characteristics of a person’s voice can be correlated with psychiatric or neurological conditions.

Kintsugi last year raised $8 million in seed funding led by Acrew Capital, and in February, announced it had closed a $20 million Series A round led by Insight Partners, which valued the company at nearly $85 million, according to PitchBook.

In-person mental health facilities typically use questionnaires to gauge the severity of patients’ anxiety or depression, measures known as PHQ-9 and GAD-7 scores. But during telehealth visits or phone consults — where face-to-face interaction is lost, making it harder to pick up on symptoms — Kintsugi’s technology helps to fill that gap.

Nicha Cumberbatch, assistant director of public health at Spora Health, a provider focused on health equity and people of color, uses Kintsugi’s software to assess women in its all-virtual, doula-led maternal health program, Spora Mommas.

The voice analysis tool, which Spora began using for patient consultations a few weeks ago, has helped Cumberbatch identify women who are, or may be at risk of, experiencing anxiety and depression before, during or after their pregnancies. When a patient starts speaking to a Spora clinician or doula on Zoom, Kintsugi’s AI begins listening to and analyzing her voice.

After processing 20 seconds of speech, the AI will then spit out the patient’s PHQ-9 and GAD-7. The employee can then use that mental health score to decide what additional testing may be needed and how best to advise or direct the patient to resources — like a psychiatrist, cognitive behavioral therapist or obstetrician.

Cumberbatch says Kintsugi’s technology is allowing her to “​​keep a more watchful eye” on her patients “and then move forward with proactive recommendations around mitigating their symptoms.” And while it’s not meant to replace clinicians or formal medical evaluations, she adds, it can be used as a screening tool to “allow us to have a more well-rounded, 360-view of the patient when we don’t have them in front of our face.”

“That technology… [allows] us to have a more well-rounded, 360-view of the patient when we don’t have them in front of our face.”

Nicha Cumberbatch, assistant director of public health at Spora Health

Dr. ​​Jaskanwal Deep Singh Sara, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist who has collaborated with Ellipsis and led research on potential uses of voice biomarkers for cardiology, cautions that while the technology is promising for health care, the field has a long way to go to ensure that it’s accurate, safe and beneficial for patients and clinicians alike.

“It’s not ready for primetime by any stretch of the imagination yet,” Dr. Sara says. Studies in psychiatry, neurology, cardiology and other areas have shown an association between voice biomarkers and various conditions or diseases, but they haven’t shown how this relationship can be used to improve clinical outcomes, he says.

Such research is “not the same as saying, ‘How can we instrumentalize it in clinical practice, and how feasible is it? How effective is it in gauging an individual’s medical trajectory?’” he explains. “If it doesn’t provide any benefits in terms of how we manage them, then the question is: why would you do it?”

He says addressing those questions is “one of many next steps that we have to undertake on this” and that larger clinical trials are needed to answer them. “If it makes health care delivery cheaper or more efficient, or if it improves outcomes for patients, then that’s great,” he adds. “But I think we need to demonstrate that first with clinical trials, and that hasn’t been done.”

To address these issues and validate its software, Kintsugi is conducting clinical studies, including with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and the National Science Foundation has awarded Kintsugi multiple grants to ramp up its research. The company is also pursuing FDA “de novo” clearance and continuing to build its own dataset to improve its machine learning models.

(Data and insights from Kintsugi’s voice journaling app, as well as conversations with call centers or telehealth providers and clinical collaborations with various hospitals, all become part of an enormous dataset that feeds Kintsugi’s AI.) Seiilova-Olson says this self-generated, unfettered proprietary dataset is what sets Kintsugi apart in the AI health care space — where many technologies are reliant on outside data from electronic health records.

That collection of troves of data on individuals’ speech can be concerning — particularly in the mental health and wellness space, which is widely considered a regulatory Wild West. (These products and services are often not subject to the same laws and stringent standards that govern how licensed clinicians provide formal medical care to patients.)

But Kintsugi’s founders say that patient privacy is protected because what matters for its technology is not what people are saying, but how they are saying it. Patients are also asked for their consent to be recorded and care is not affected by their decision to opt in or opt out, according to the founders.

Kintsugi says it has served an estimated 34,000 patients. The company is currently working with a large health system with 90 hospitals and clinics across 22 states, and they are active in a care management call center that services roughly 20 million calls per year. It is also partnering with Pegasystems, which offers customer service tools for health care and other industries, to help payers and providers handle inbound calls.

Chang says other customers include Fortune 10 enterprise payers, pharmaceutical organizations and digital health applications focused on remote patient monitoring, but that she could not yet share their names. Kintsugi’s clinical partners include Children’s Hospital Colorado, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Florida, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London and SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital in Spain, Chang said.

Prentice Tom, Kintsugi’s chief medical officer, adds that it’s working with the University of Arkansas to explore how the tool can be used to possibly identify patients with suicidal ideation, or increased or severe suicide risk, as well as with Loma Linda University, to look at how the technology can be used to spot burnout amongst clinicians.

The team is also looking for ways to expand availability and uses for younger and elderly patients, as well as for maternal and postpartum populations. And beyond patients themselves, it’s perhaps nurses who are benefiting most from Kintsugi’s work, according to the founding team: having a triage tool that helps reduce administrative work or the time spent asking generic questions enables nurses to more seamlessly move patients in their journey.

But Tom, a Harvard-trained emergency medicine physician and former faculty member at Stanford University’s Department of Emergency Medicine, says Kintsugi is now doing far more than addressing infrastructure issues alone. It’s democratizing access to mental health care, Tom said, moving away from a physician-centric paradigm that caters more to people with significant enough depression that they require medical evaluation.

“This tool actually creates a view of mental health in terms of mental wellness,” Tom said, “where everyone has the opportunity to understand where they sit on the spectrum and that actually stratifies treatment options well beyond the current infrastructure.”

I’m a Senior Writer at Forbes covering the intersection of technology and society. Before joining Forbes, I spent three years as a tech reporter at Politico, where I covered

Source: Mental Health Startup Uses Voice ‘Biomarkers’ To Detect Signs Of Depression And Anxiety

.

More contents:

How To Tell If You Have a Yeast Infection or UTI

Itching, burning or the constant urge to go — when it comes to problems down there, figuring out what’s wrong can be a tricky task. That’s because many issues that affect the vagina present with symptoms that may seem similar or even overlapping.

This is particularly true when it comes to urinary tract infections and yeast infections, two of the most common to afflict women — about 50% to 60% will experience a UTI at least once in her lifetime, and around 75% of women will experience a yeast infection at some point.

“These conditions can sometimes mirror one another because they both cause vaginal and bladder irritation,” says Jessica Shepherd, M.D., an ob-gyn, women’s health expert, and founder of Sanctum Wellness in Dallas, Texas.

lite9-4-1-1-1-1-3Here’s how to tell the difference between a UTI and a yeast infection so you can get the proper treatment.

Symptoms

UTI symptoms include:

  • A persistent urge to urinate, even if the bladder is empty and not much comes out
  • Incontinence
  • Burning, stinging or discomfort when urinating
  • Abdominal pain or cramping, especially when urinating
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain in the lower back or flank
  • Fever, chills, nausea

Yeast infection symptoms include:

  • Constant itching, burning, or pain when urinating
  • Abnormal discharge (white and cottage cheese-like)
  • Itching or irritation in the vaginal area
  • Vaginal pain or soreness

Causes

UTIs occur when bacteria gets into the vaginal area, giving it the opportunity to travel up to the urethra or bladder where it becomes a full-blown infection and triggers uncomfy symptoms, explains Dr. Shepherd. Women are more likely than men to get one (although men can have a UTI, too) because our urethras (the pathway to the bladder) are shorter, making the bacterial journey easier.

Yeast infections happen when there’s an overgrowth of yeast that disrupts the vagina’s delicate microbiome. “Yeast naturally grows in our vaginas, along with other ‘good’ bacteria, but sometimes these levels can become imbalanced, leading to an infection,” says Staci Tanouye, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN in Jacksonville, Florida and a Poise partner. “This can be caused by things like taking antibiotics, pregnancy, diabetes or a compromised immune system.”

Treatment

You need antibiotics to get rid of a UTI, so schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms. “If left untreated, a UTI could potentially spread to the kidneys, causing pain in the lower back or side, as well as fever, chills, or nausea,” Dr. Shepherd says.

Yeast infections can be treated with antifungal medications, but always talk to your doctor before trying any over-the-counter products, Dr. Tanouye says. Your doctor can help you determine which medication is right for you (there are oral options or suppositories that you insert into the vagina, as well as creams to help alleviate discomfort like itching).

Yeast infections require antifungal medications. These can be prescribed or purchased without a prescription and are available in a variety of treatments. You may take an oral medication, use a topical substance, or even insert a suppository. The duration of treatment varies and can range anywhere from one dose to multiple doses over a week’s time. Just like UTIs, you should take the yeast infection medication for the entire recommended duration to prevent the condition from coming back.

It’s possible that you have recurring UTIs and yeast infections that require a more aggressive treatment. Your doctor will outline these treatments if you experience multiple infections over a short course of time.

Preventing UTIs and yeast infections:

“Lifestyle factors can go a long way in helping you ward off UTIs and yeast infections,” says Dr. Shepherd. Here are some tactics to keep in mind:

  • Stay hydrated. “This can help prevent mild UTIs because fluids help flush bacteria from the urinary tract while decreasing inflammation,” Dr. Tanouye says.
  • Exercise. Being active supports a strong immune system, which is important for you to be able to fight off infections.
  • Ditch tight clothing. “Wear breathable clothing and keep skin dry,” Dr. Tanouye says, and try to change out of damp or sweaty clothing as soon as possible. Yeast thrives in warm, moist environments.
  • Avoid scented products. Feminine perfumes, deodorants, wipes or tampons that are scented may disrupt the makeup of vaginal bacteria, causing infection.
  • Wipe from front to back. This can help prevent you from spreading bacteria (which may cause a UTI) from the rectum to the vagina.
  • Don’t douche. This can disrupt your vagina’s natural bacterial makeup, which may lead to a yeast infection.

UTIs are common, with 10 in 25 women, and 3 in 25 men experiencing a UTI in their lifetime. Women experience UTIs more commonly than men because a woman’s urethra is shorter than a man’s, and closer to the vagina and anus, resulting in more exposure to bacteria.

You may also be more at risk for a UTI if you:

  • are sexually active
  • are pregnant
  • are currently using or have used antibiotics recently
  • are obese
  • have gone through menopause
  • have given birth to multiple children
  • have diabetes
  • have or have had a kidney stone or another blockage in your urinary tract
  • have a weakened immune system

Women experience yeast infections more frequently than men, and 75 percent of women will get a yeast infection in their lifetime. Yeast infections commonly occur in the vagina and vulva, but you can also get a yeast infection on your breast if you’re breast feeding and in other moist areas of the body, like the mouth. A vaginal yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted infection, but in rare occasions you can pass it to your partner during sex.

Your risk of contracting a vaginal yeast infection increases if:

  • you’re between puberty and menopause
  • you’re pregnant
  • you use hormonal birth control
  • you have diabetes and don’t manage high blood sugar effectively
  • you’re using or have recently used antibiotics or steroids
  • you use products in your vaginal area like douches
  • you have a compromised immune system

Source: How to tell if you have a yeast infection or UTI

More contents:

Vaginal yeast infections fact sheet”. womenshealth.gov. December 23, 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015.

Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2006″. MMWR Recomm Rep. 55 (RR-11): 1–94. PMID 16888612. Archived from the original on 2014-10-20.

Vaginal yeast infection”. MedlinePlus. National Institutes of Health. Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.

Diagnosis of vaginitis”. Am Fam Physician. 62 (5): 1095–104. PMID 10997533. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06.

Thrush in men and women”. nhs.uk. 2018-01-09. Retrieved 2021-01-16.

Yeast infection (vaginal)”. Mayo Clinic. Archived from the original on 16 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.

Vaginal Candidiasis | Fungal Diseases | CDC

Treatment of vaginal candidiasis for the prevention of preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis”.

“Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Candidiasis: 2016 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of Amerika

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 Seven Predictions To Help Insurers Thrive In 2022

As 2021 thankfully recedes from view, 2022 will present insurers with a host of profound changes that we believe will significantly alter the carrier landscape this year and beyond. These changes will be driven by serious pandemic-related challenges, climate change threats, continuing margin pressures and unrelenting incursions from industry outsiders.

Gleaned from conversations with clients, prospects and partners, here’s what insurers need to look out for and respond to in the coming year:

1. Corporate board-level activism will drive strategic planning and operating model change. 

Insurer C-suites have generally had broad latitude in setting their corporate strategies. Now, though, factors that were once an afterthought — climate change, the circular economy, social equity, the connected world — are now front and center.

Under pressure from their boards, most insurers now include environmental, social and governance (ESG) components in their strategic plans and portfolio strategies. Pressure will intensify in 2022, which will impact investment returns, employee hiring and retention, ecosystems and partnerships, and the ability to expand into new geographies.

Recently, the technology head at a large P&C insurer with whom we work began assessing a comprehensive data platform to gain a better understanding of the company’s carbon footprint, climate-related risks, third-party supplier risks and sustainability goals. Companies that respond thoughtfully to ESG concerns will gain significant competitive advantage, including increased customer loyalty, better brand reputation and greater compliance, over those that do not.

2. Heightened M&A activity and private equity infusion will alter the insurance pecking order. 

Armed with trillions of dollars, private equity (PE) firms are snapping up insurance books of business; meanwhile, PE and venture capital (VC) firms are lavishing insurtechs with investment dollars. Concurrently, insurance companies are actively incorporating digital capabilities from insurtechs and startups.

With more acquisitions announced every quarter since the pandemic began (PE insurance sector investments hit $19.28 billion through August 2021, according to S&P Global), we continue to see a shift in the makeup of the insurer landscape. Recent examples include Blackstone acquiring Allstate’s Life insurance business, Apollo’s merger with Athene holdings and Carlyle’s investments in Vantage Risk.

It’s easy to imagine capital, underwriting expertise and customer experience capabilities from non-traditional sources applied to underwrite new risks across industries. This year may be the industry inflection point for unleashing a significant challenge to the mega-insurer establishment.

3. New business domains will further blur the lines between insurance and other industries. 

The pandemic spurred insurers to rethink their core capabilities and increase their relevance by divesting non-core businesses or splitting conglomerates into new entities to create more shareholder value. Recently, AIG split off its life and retirement segment into a standalone entity via an IPO to simplify its business structure, while Principal Financial exited the retail market, placing $25 billion in reserves.

With the ever-increasing need to align business models with how customers engage with products and services, we expect to see new business domains emerge that overlap with and integrate services from several traditional industries. MIT’s analysis of the home domain shows this happening among participants from insurance, financial services, consumer goods and other industries.

For example, Tesla already offers embedded insurance based on driving data, and Amazon recently launched product liability insurance for its sellers through its Insurance Accelerator.

We’re also continuing to see the employer/employee as a new domain around which insurers can build customer-centric business models that include ecosystem partners and attract the attention of PE money to forge unlikely partnerships. 2022 may be the year when this phenomenon gives rise to more embedded insurance products.

4. Employee wellness will continue spurring innovation and development of new group products. 

Wellness products are all the rage, and for good reason. Amid the seemingly endless pandemic, anything that promotes physical, emotional and financial health is a win for all involved.

By proactively engaging with employees to improve their overall wellness and emotional health, insurers can decrease risk for many insurance products, while employers benefit from having more productive and engaged staff. Look for more consumers to seek voluntary wellness options in their insurance products in 2022 — particularly those sold in a direct-to-consumer (D2C) mode via a digital-first model.

Employers will increasingly offer remote benefit programs like fitness classes, telehealth, financial literacy, mindfulness coaching and caregiver help. Such products are a low-cost way to boost employee retention and create a better employee experience.

5. More insurers will experiment with low-/no-code solutions. 

2021 was the year low-/no-code platforms gained notoriety, offering more power to non-technical people to automate processes, develop new applications and build new customer experiences. Although the jury is still out on the promise of these platforms, core insurance systems and enterprise software providers don’t want to be left behind.

Microsoft and ServiceNow are good examples of enterprise platforms that offer low-/no-code capabilities to orchestrate processes. Insurance systems like Vitech, Guidewire, EIS and Duck Creek now offer design tools to create scripts that deliver new functionality faster. Insurance carriers are working to modernize their IT operating models, talent and partner ecosystems to make the best use of low-/no-code technologies offered by software vendors to expedite solution delivery.

6. Digital purchasing experience comes of age. 

The decades-long crawl toward increasingly complex online sales capabilities has now shifted into high gear in the insurance space, with the explosion of third-party data, embedded insurance products (see #3) and more precise systems of engagement. No matter what domain they’re purchasing from, consumers expect online purchases to be convenient, speedy and wrapped into a full-service experience.

Insurers are adapting their processes and unique data assets to meet the challenge. Most insurers are placing “digital-first” bets to create seamless purchase experiences, increase loyalty and engagement, and drive behaviors that improve risk profiles.

Working with a digitally-born business, a large supplemental carrier with whom we work is seeking to offer a one-stop-shopping consumer experience by integrating its new product, distribution and servicing capabilities and expanding its base products with complimentary coverage for richer cross-selling opportunities. It’s also introducing white- and co-labeling of products with partner companies’ distribution channels.

Another specialty insurer that we serve is partnering with marketing and tech organizations to create a roadmap for content management, customer relationship management and marketing automation ecosystems through the lens of experience enablement for new D2C audiences and internal (broker and carrier) stakeholders.

While indirect sales channels won’t go away, insurers and intermediaries must improvise and adapt to the digital environment and create unique products and solutions that predict and address customers’ needs. The emergence of better tools (think AI and analytics, for example) will help. But a commercial FOMO (“fear of missing out”) brings real urgency to this shift.

7. Greater use of AI will result in changes to permissible data and a heightened role for regulating authorities. 

Reliance on traditional credit and demographic data is increasingly under scrutiny by regulators, resulting in wholesale changes and limitations on how policies are priced, purchased and serviced. New data sources, as well as AI- and machine learning-driven analytics will increasingly be used to address the vacuum created across product development, distribution, underwriting, pricing, servicing and claims. Such variables will draw more scrutiny from regulators.

Insurers will encounter protracted regulatory reviews based on their use of new data sources (GPS data, health and safety data, consumer demographics, etc.) and AI-driven predictive models and analytics. The need to test models for the irresponsible use of advanced AI technologies could complicate future regulatory filings and rate changes.

Furthermore, regulators may require insurers to publish publicly available model bias impact statements to establish transparency. To differentiate themselves, leading insurers will invest in establishing a foundation for dealing with third-party data, new rating systems and analytical capabilities while also creating streamlined filing processes. Carriers that drop bias-creating variables in favor of those that truly impact risk will minimally benefit from better underwriting results. As ESG and disclosure requirements evolve, compliant carriers will gain a distinct competitive edge.

Creating tomorrow’s advantage, today

Insurers’ success in 2022 will pivot around how well they predict customer needs, navigate uncertainty and deliver value — concurrently. Winning carriers will be those that are agile, build skills and capabilities that increase their relevance, accelerate collaboration with ecosystem partners and emphasize data-driven products.

By doing so, insurers can step boldly into the future, well-equipped to anticipate change and deliver seamless customer experiences.

Mahesh Natarajan is Head of Strategy, Insurance Solutions Group and Ventures, at Cognizant. A 20-year veteran at Cognizant, he is an experienced business leader with a demonstrated history of enabling client success, scaling businesses and simplifying complex problems. Mahesh has proven experience advising clients on strategic business initiatives such as digital transformation, operational excellence, managed technology services, organizational change management, Lean ADM and technology transformation. He is passionate about continuous learning, empowering teams and STEM education. Mahesh has a Bachelor of Computer Science and engineering from University of Madras. He can be reached at Mahesh.Natarajan2@cognizant.com.

Source: Cognizant BrandVoice: Seven Predictions To Help Insurers Thrive In 2022

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More contents:

The Documentary History of Insurance, 1000 B.C.–1875 A.D. Newark, NJ: Prudential Press. 1915. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 15 June 2021.

Insurance” . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 657–658.

Lloyd, Edward (c.1648–1713)”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 1 (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/16829. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2011. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Today and History:The History of Equitable Life”. 26 June 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2009.

“Encarta: Health Insurance”. Archived from the original on 17 July 2009.

The Cabinet Papers 1915-1982: National Health Insurance Act 1911. The National Archives, 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2013.

To Insure or Not to Insure?: An Insurance Puzzle. The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance Theory.

Irish Brokers Association. Insurance Principles Archived 11 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.

Losses From Malware May Not Be Covered Due To Your Policy’s Hostile Acts Exclusion”. The National Law Review. Retrieved 25 April 2019.

Insurers waive terrorism exclusions for Christchurch shooting victims”. Stuff. Retrieved 25 April 2019.

Insurance Economics. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 268–. ISBN 978-3-642-20547-7.

Insurance Regulation in the United States: Regulatory Federalism and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners”. Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Florida State University Law Review.

A Study on State Authority: Making a Case for Proper Insurance Oversight”. Archived 10 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine.

The Impact of the European Union Insurance Directives on Insurance Company Stocks”. The Journal of Risk and Insurance.

FSA takes on insurance regulation”. The Guardian.

The impact of changing regulation on the insurance industry”. Financial Services Authority.

Reforming UK insurance contract law”. Lloyd’s. 30 August 2012. Archived from the original on 14 January 2013.

Insurance Law of the People’s Republic of China – 1995″. Lehman, Lee & Xu.

The role and powers of the Chinese insurance regulatory commission in the administration of insurance law in China”. Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance.

Insurers’ websites receive first marks | Банк России”. http://www.cbr.ru. Retrieved 21 May 2018.

Senior broker on the importance of reducing clients’ risk exposure”. http://www.insurancebusinessmag.com. Retrieved 5 November 2020.

Insurance as maladaptation: Resilience and the ‘business as usual’ paradox” (PDF). Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy. 34 (6): 1175–1193. doi:10.1177/0263774X15602022. ISSN 0263-774X. S2CID 155016786.

Consumer Motivation for Purchasing Low-Deductible Insurance. In Marketing and Public Policy Conference Proceedings, Vol. 4, D. J. Ringold (ed.), Chicago, IL: American Marketing Association, 147–155.

Credit-Based Insurance Scores: Impacts on Consumers of Automobile Insurance

Personal Financial Wellness: A Banking Opportunity And Imperative

With the explosion of digital banking during the pandemic, financial institutions (FIs) have their sights set high for growing revenues through digital channels. To do that, however, they’ll need to become more intertwined in and relevant to the daily lives of their customers.

One way to achieve this is by taking all the information they have about their customers and turning it into services that enhance customers’ financial wellness. Doing so would be especially welcome in the post-pandemic landscape and the financial uncertainty it has spurred.

To put it into perspective, more than 40% of UK adults are now considered “financially vulnerable,” and nearly 40% of UK adults have seen their financial circumstances deteriorate since February 2020.

Financial wellness at a personal level

While almost every bank now offers financial wellness tools of some sort, whether a budgeting app, a financial literacy course or education on financial planning, these services are generalized to all customers rather than addressing individuals’ personal financial wellness needs. Because financial situations vary greatly across individuals, the truly personalized element is vital.

For example, to help individuals build their savings, banks can use predictive AI technologies to understand customer transactions and cash flow patterns and automatically divert the right amount of extra funds to savings or investments. Royal Bank of Canada says it has helped clients save an average of $358 per month with this type of tool.

Further, by mining debit card data, banks can gain insights into spending habits that they can share with customers or incorporate into personalized offerings. Through AI-driven interventions, personalized “nudges” and micro-level targeting, banks can ensure customers take the steps needed to embrace their financial destiny.

Data and AI underpinnings

Achieving a new hyper-personalized banking future requires the right customer data and digitizing front-to-back-office operations. The financial services industry is arguably the most data-intensive sector in the global economy. Banks, in particular, have enormous amounts of customer data (e.g., deposits/withdrawals, POS purchases, online payments, KYC profiles). Historically, however, they haven’t been very good at utilizing these rich datasets.

By harnessing data responsibly — taking into consideration ethical and regulatory aspects, and striking the right balance between machine-driven and human-centric work — FIs can identify and serve new customer segments of one.

At HSBC, for example, customers can begin a conversation in the bank’s mobile app with an AI chatbot, answering simple questions immediately. Complex inquiries get passed to front-line colleagues. The AI system provides agents with details on the issue and guidance on how to resolve it.

We’ve been working with FIs to pull history and experience via AI into the conversation. We use emotion recognition tools (e.g., intelligent real-time language processing and sentiment analysis) to better understand the context of a customer’s inquiry and when a customer might be vulnerable, even if they’re not aware of it themselves.

This type of information can be harnessed to create personalized engagement plans that customize interactions. These tools can also enable banks to match agents’ personality and strengths with customers to help build deeper, more trusted customer relationships.

Time for a new approach

In addition to the customer benefits of personalization, banks can also realize cost savings and performance gains. According to Boston Consulting Group, hyper-personalization can lower rates of customer churn and boost sales, leading to annual revenue uplifts of 10%. 

However, there’s plenty of work to do. Right now, only 45% of consumers are satisfied with the quality of personalized services they receive from their banks. Here are three key ingredients for progressing toward personalized banking capabilities:

1. Technology

Banks need a mashup of data analytics, AI and automation to deliver personalization, intelligence and predictions at speed. This requires harnessing high-quality data to feed AI/ML algorithms so they can deliver experiences and services that anticipate customers’ needs, wants and desires, as well as combining automation with human supervision to build trust and empathy.

For example, we are working with FIs to link up data sources and introduce AI-powered algorithms that provide a dynamic view of a customer’s financial profile. This helps customers with their financial wellness plans and enables FIs to suggest products that enhance customers’ financial wellness.

2. Talent

Along with adroit technologists, banks need designers, anthropologists, ethnographers and others with social science pedigrees to apply human-centric design thinking to product and service development.

Social scientists are equipped to understand and apply the complexities of human behavior to help FIs predefine user personas and scenarios and use these to shape and personalize the experiences they provide.

In this spirit, we are helping a European state-owned organization to implement a user-centered digital product and service offering, including completely reengineering its mobile banking app. The existing app was plagued by a number of challenges, including a dated technology platform, poor user experience, low adoption and high cost-to-serve across non-digital channels.

We helped the organization define its go-to-market, mobile-first digital strategy, identifying key market-facing propositions based on user research as well as delivering these propositions at scale. Multiple subject matter experts were involved in the project from the outset to ensure a holistic approach, including program/project managers, scrum masters, data architects, human-centric design leads, UX and UI designers, researchers, developers, business analysts and process improvement specialists.

With this project, the bank aims to significantly increase its customer base over the next five years, by combining customer trust with a best-in-class user experience on its re-engineered mobile app, which puts it on par with challenger banks.

3. Culture

To drive change, customer well-being and digitization need to become part of the FI’s culture. This is more than merely embracing Lean methodologies and/or more flexible ways of working. Helping customers achieve financial wellness demands a fresh outlook that maximizes new, agile ways of working and data-driven approaches embedded enterprise-wide — from leadership down to every employee.

Turning the tables

For banks whose business models are based on profiting from customers’ lack of financial wellness (overdrafts, fees, charges, etc.), it can be challenging to adopt this approach. The majority of banks have a high cost-to-serve, with legacy infrastructures and high overhead.

In the face of tough competition from savvy fintechs and non-bank disruptors, however, it’s clear that incumbents urgently need to pivot their approach. FIs that incorporate personalized financial wellness into their business strategy have an outstanding opportunity to support their customers while also reinvigorating their brands — and realize growth and cost savings at the same time.

To learn more, visit the Banking Technology Solutions section of our website.

Andrew Warren is Head of Banking & Financial Services and a member of the Executive team at Cognizant UK & Ireland. He leads a team responsible for driving results for Cognizant’s

Source: Personal Financial Wellness: A Banking Opportunity And Imperative

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Is Walking Enough Exercise? A Cardiologist Answers

There are seasons in life when a 15-minute walk is the most you can commit to your exercise routine—and, hey, that’s 100 percent okay. Maybe your job is more of a nine to nine than a nine to five right now, or childcare is monopolizing your free moments. Whatever the case, we asked a cardiologist to answer the age-old question is walking enough exercise? And the first thing you need to know is that the simple answer is yes.

According to Michael Weinrauch, MD, a New Jersey-based cardiologist, the bottom line is that even the smallest neighborhood loop can have an immense impact on your health and well-being. “The take home point here is that even 15 minutes a day of walking, without stopping, provides benefit with regards to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality,” he says.

Morbidity refers to illness or disease, while mortality refers to death. Research has associated 15 minutes of activity with a 22 percent lower risk of death (mortality), and walking with a 43 percent reduced risk in stroke and reduction the risk factors of heart attack (morbidity), regardless of how fast your heart is beating. “Keep in mind, most of the research that has been done on the benefits of walking have been done without monitoring heart rates during physical activity.

Remember, the Fitbit and smart watch apps are still actually a relatively new phenomenon,” adds Dr. Weinrauch. Long story, short: The morbidity and mortality benefits of walking seem to occur regardless of your heart’s beats per minute (BPMs). 

“The take home point here is that even 15 minutes a day of walking, without stopping, provides benefit with regards to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.” – Michael Weinrauch, MD, cardiologist

With that being said, you can increase your cardiovascular fitness by increasing your heart rate and going longer distances—and that may offer even more benefits when it come to morbidity and mortality. “Cardiovascular fitness or aerobic fitness can be defined as a measurement of the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to its muscles,” explains Dr. Weinrauch.

VO2 Max, which is the maximum rate that oxygen can be consumed during exercise that increases in intensity, is the gold standard for measurement of fitness.” However, it’s really up to you how “fit” you want to be. If you’re someone who wants to build up your VO2 max so you can run a marathon, fantastic. And if you’re someone who’s content with a brisk walk to your favorite coffee store, that’s also great.

“The bottom line is, if you are walking to improve your health, do not worry about how high to raise your heart rate. If you are interested improving your cardiovascular fitness in addition to improving your health, then more vigorous exercise training will likely be necessary,” Dr. Weinrauch says.

It’s the choose your own adventure of fitness. And regardless of your choice, you’re still collecting those morbidity and mortality benefits as long as you clock your 15 minutes each day.

Make sure to stretch after you walk! 

Kells McPhillips

By: Kells McPhillips

Source: Is Walking Enough Exercise? A Cardiologist Answers | Well+Good

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Critics:

Brisk walking, like any form of exercise, will cause your heart to beat faster. As a general rule, the faster you move, the more your heart rate will increase. For example, running will typically cause a faster heart rate than walking at a leisurely pace. A stronger heart is just one of the many benefits associated with brisk walking and other forms of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise.

The heart just like any other muscle gains strength from exercise. A stronger heart can effortlessly pump more blood with each beat. The resting heart rate of people who regularly exercise tends to be lower because the heart doesn’t have to struggle to pump blood, People who regularly engage in cardiovascular activities like brisk walking have a 45 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than people who don’t maintain an active lifestyle, explains University of Maryland Medical Center.

Brisk walking can help lower “bad” or LDL cholesterol while raising “good “or HDL level. Walking or jogging 12 miles a week has been shown to significantly boost good cholesterol. You need to log at least 20 miles per week or about three miles per day to put a notable dent in LDL levels, explains University of Maryland Medical Center. Walking can also manage blood-pressure levels and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

By increasing your speed to a 4.5 mph power walk, at 13 minutes per mile, you can also increase the calories burned per mile. A 125-pound walker burns 77 calories, while a 155-pound person burns 96 calories and a 185-pound walker burns 115 calories per mile.

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