NTUC Income has become the first insurer in Singapore to use IBM Watson Explorer to automate and improve its pre- and post-hospitalisation claims process.

NTUC Income said it receives an average of 14,000 hard copies of IncomeShield pre- and post-hospitalisation claims monthly, which are currently reviewed, assessed and approved manually.

This contributes to a significant number of man-hours spent on data entry before claims data can be processed to enable pay-outs.

To address this challenge, the Singaporean insurer is using IBM Datacap to better manage claims that are received in a variety of media types.

Datacap combines advanced imaging, business rules, natural language processing and machine-learning technologies to automatically classify and extract information in real-time from most types of documents, thereby eliminating labour-intensive manual data entry from paper claims.

For the processing of data, NTUC Income is using IBM Watson Explorer, a cognitive search and content analysis platform at different stages of the insurance lifecycle.

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It can read and analyse structured and unstructured data, such as medical certificates and bills.

The length of hospital stays, medical histories, surgical procedures, and other contributing factors are then taken into consideration by the system before it makes claims recommendations and calculates the pay-outs to policyholders.

Improve the quality of decision-making

This will reduce the time claims assessors spend researching and matching claims information. Overall, it is anticipated to improve the quality and speed of the decision-making process as well as the consistency of the claims experience for policyholders.

The adoption of cognitive capabilities is gaining a significant momentum within the insurance industry.

It can help make interactions between insurers and their customers both simple and smart while raising the bar for future engagements and effective touch-points.

Cognitive technologies

According to a recent IBM Institute for Business Value study, “Insurance 2025″ which explores the future of the insurance industry, 79% of insurance company leaders believe technology will have a major impact on their organisations, and 71% have begun to use cognitive technologies.

Andrew Yeo, NTUC Income’s general manager for life & health Insurance, said: “By automating the most tedious aspect of the claims process, Income is better placed to scale our responsiveness to higher volume of claims and to provide our policyholders with a favourable claims experience as we continue to enhance our efficiency and accuracy in claims assessment, review and approval.”

DJ de Villiers, insurance industry director, at IBM Asia Pacific, said insurers are always looking for ways to improve the claims experience without compromising the industry’s high risk-management standards.

de Villiers said: “The challenge is exacerbated in an environment where business is growing and experienced claims talents are hard to find. Watson is uniquely differentiated in being able to extract and enrich data from various sources to provide evidence-based recommendations which increase the timeliness, accuracy and consistency of the claims process.”