Vitech Talks: The Podcast
Episode 5 | ITC Technology Roundup
Join Todd Eyler, Vitech’s Vice President of Strategic Marketing, and our host, Steve Brandt, as they review the tech highlights from ITC 2022.
Transcript of ITC Technology Roundup
Steve Brandt: Hello and welcome again to another episode of Vitech Talks, The Podcast. I’m Steve Brandt, your host, senior vice president of insurance here at Vitech, and I’m joined today with another Vitecher, Todd Eyler. And what we are talking about today is InsureTech Connect, the ITC conference down in Vegas. But before that, let me introduce Todd. Todd, how are you?
Todd Eyler: Steve, I’m great. I’m so happy to be part of the Vitech Talks, The Podcast series. I know it’s really catching on and am happy to participate in this.
Steve Brandt: Well, it’s great to have you and Todd and I work closer together, so it’s great to be spending time like this with you. Todd, for those in you in the audience, is vice president of our strategic marketing group. He manages Vitech’s strategic marketing efforts, including analyst relations, industry communications, competitive analysis, ecosystem partnerships, and thought leadership. Boy, that’s a lot! Todd has also held leadership positions at top-tier software companies and systems integrators in the industry and has extensive experience identifying [and] analyzing market trends and aligning business priorities with the right technology, which certainly Vitech relies on him to do all of that for us as we make those strategic decisions in the marketplace. And we’re talking here today, Todd, about ITC or InsureTech Connect, which has become, over the past, I want to say seven or eight years, the mecca, if you’re in insurance, let alone insurance technology. It really has become the go-to conference of the year for our industry. And it cuts across all lines of insurance, life, health, property, and casualty. It certainly attracts an audience that includes, insurance company operators, leadership, technologists, as well as mature IT companies like ourselves and of course, the startups and entrepreneurs trying to make their way into insurtech. And let’s not forget money, the investors and venture capitalists and private equity firms and the like, trying to find the next great investment for their portfolios. So it’s an exciting time. About 10,000 people a year now show up at Vegas, and certainly you’re right in the middle of all that. And I know you spent your time at InsureTech Connect looking at new and exciting technology players, cutting across the industry. So tell us a little bit about that, kind of an overall approach to that before we get into the particulars on some of these companies and kind of where you focused your time. What was that like for you?
Todd Eyler: Yeah, it was just such a massive facility. I mean one of the areas I wanted to look at was wellness, and I got a lot of steps in because of the size of the facility. But I was just trying to find vendors that related, at least somehow, to group insurance, even thinking creatively about that. So that spanned a lot of categories. I mean, I mentioned wellness, that was a very interesting…
Steve Brandt: Tell me [about] the process. So mechanically, I’m at InsureTech Connect. I have a different agenda. I’m there trying to get with my clients and prospects and things like that, trying to meet them any way I can. But you’re going around and there’s all sorts of ways that this gets facilitated. I mean, there’s a lot of things you can access to find the entrepreneurs. They have [the] international area, they have [a] pure tech startup area, demo areas. Tell us a little bit about the setting that you’re walking into, trying to do all this hunting.
Todd Eyler: So just to kind of box us in, they have a big spreadsheet. ITC has a big spreadsheet and this year it had 600 vendors. So I went through that spreadsheet with a couple of our product people, Scott Plummer and Mary Davis from our product team, and we can’t possibly cover even a fraction of those. So we selected about 60 of them that we thought could make sense to at least try to schedule meetings with her, see at the conference. And we were able to schedule meetings with about 20 of those, 20 of those had booths. They were easy to find and we could talk to them, but the majority of them, we had to sort of use the app, the request app on, at ITC on our iPhones. We got a few meetings that way. There was a stage where some of the startups were giving pitches and we got some good information and follow-ups from that. But those were the main ways of finding people. Otherwise, we were just sort of trying to network and we randomly also found some people on our list in a kind of an informal way, and we made connections that way. So it’s kind of a multipronged approach, given the size of the facility and the number of vendors.
Steve Brandt: Okay. And you were sort of focusing in on startup companies, technologies that might have some applicability to certainly what Vitech does with group insurance and the group insurance space. And you covered some areas with wellness, I think was your focus. You mentioned integrations was another focus, predictive analytics was another focus, and kind of the distribution area, I think you did a little focus on. So tell us about some of those companies, and starting with the wellness. I think you found some interesting companies out there to talk about.
Todd Eyler: Yeah, the first one that, that first Wednesday when we were starting to really start to try to meet with a lot of these vendors, the first one that I met with was an Israeli startup called Binah. I hope I’m pronouncing this right with the Hebrew, but B-I-N-A-H.ai. It’s a company that’s been around for a few years, but really interesting. So I, I sat down, and he literally, set up his iPhone and I looked into his iPhone sitting still for a minute with my face kind of in a structured way looking at the iPhone. The app on the iPhone detected a lot of detail about the blood flow in my face, under my skin. And they’re saying it generated 90% accurate, like vital signs, my blood pressure, A1c glucose for diabetes, cholesterol. So it was pretty amazing. I mean, if this is truly accurate or it really works, that could be pretty amazing for telehealth and ongoing wellness management. Something interesting that insurance companies…
Steve Brandt: Yeah, I can imagine! I mean, there’s so many applications. Certainly, telehealth, life insurance applications, speeding the underwriting process. Heck, you know airports, I use Clear, and I look in there and I take a snapshot of me every time I go to the airport. So maybe somebody’s got some sort of illness, they could flag it right there and instead of putting them on a plane, send them to the hospital, who knows? I mean, kind of radical, but that’s pretty, pretty amazing. Tell us about some others, because that’s kind of really piquing the interest!
Todd Eyler: So that was one interesting, another one was a company called Grail, G-R-A-I-L. And I’m not sure if, you know, this isn’t a nice topic, but most types of cancers are not tested for. There aren’t like, with prostate or like memory mammograms, there’s about a half dozen ongoing tests for cancer, but there’s 50 common types of cancer, most of them are not tested for. So they have, with one blood test with a very low false positive rate, they can pretty accurately test for how likely you’re to have 50 different kinds of cancer. So I was personally afraid to do it because I didn’t want to know, but maybe at the right time of my life, I’ll pay, it’s a thousand bucks. If you have a family history, it might be useful to know that.
Steve Brandt: Yeah, if you’re an insurance company, you certainly wouldn’t mind paying a thousand dollars as a claim if it’s going to save you a lot of heartache and a lot of money and care down the line. Early intervention with cancer is the number one thing. Get it before it hits stage three or four, where it becomes very costly and very deadly, really. Boy, that’s some interesting stuff between those two companies right there. We should know everything about ourselves health wise.
Todd Eyler: Yeah. Way beyond wearables and how many steps you’re taking, right? It seems like we’re evolving way beyond that with the wellness capability.
Steve Brandt: That’s some pretty exciting stuff, Todd, thanks for that. You know, the integration piece for our industry, this is a big deal, especially [the] group voluntary worksite world that we play in, integrating between the carriers in all of the downstream stakeholders. Employers, benefits admin players, brokers, HRIS systems. There’s just so much noise, if you will, from distribution, enrollment, and administration on back through to the carrier, that this is a real hot topic in our market. Tell us what you found at ITC about that.
Todd Eyler: I think the most interesting thing there was, there’s a lot of progress being made with one to many, so you can connect to a hub. There’s a couple of vendors where you can connect to one hub and they’ve then connected out to a bunch of enrollment vendors or other HRIS, potentially also payroll vendors, starting with the enrollment ones, but just making it really easy. Instead of having it, particularly if you’re working with smaller businesses where you have low premium amounts and you don’t want to spend a lot of money doing one-off integrations. This is an easy way to connect into one kind of hub. The names were, Ideon was one that we thought was pretty interesting. And then Noro has also been out there for a while, but they’re, this is all they do. It’s not a hobby for them. They build real businesses, building this connectivity out to [a] big network of enrollment vendors.
Steve Brandt: Yeah, yeah. A lot of attention by both ends of the market, the carriers and the downstream stakeholders because it’s such a useful utility. It could be an industry utility really, that people take advantage of to streamline what today is a very cumbersome and costly process. So those two companies are definitely on to something. You spent some time looking at predictive analytics. Analytics is a huge need in our industry. You know, what we do at Vitech is we modernize technology for our carriers, but that allows them to get at data and bring data in and bring data out a lot more easily. And what you do with that data is really what’s most important. So tell us what you found about predictive analytics at ITC.
Todd Eyler: So I could spend a lot of time on this, but the one that really stood out was, [and] I’m not biased because they’re in Boston, but they’re Boston-based, but it’s a company called Gradient, and they’re an offshoot of Milliman, which many people in the industry are very familiar with from an actuarial perspective. But they’ve created a predictive analytic algorithm for, starting with workers comp companies and then moving into health insurance companies, where they can take relatively small amounts of data, like your age, your income, your zip code, and then a little bit of claims data and be very accurate about what your likely health claims are going to be in the future. So again, one [example] is if you’ve had renal surgery, like kidney surgery, they can predict that you might have advanced diabetes later on, for example, very accurately. But it’s just very strong uptake in other parts of the industry, like workers comp, health insurance, probably [a] good use in our group insurance space.
Steve Brandt: Absolutely. Especially in the worksite area, where we think we should be paying more claims. This is a way to kind of find reason to touch those people, touch our customers with some real positive interaction around claims. And then I think, to kind of sum it up, maybe you can spend a just a minute or so on the distribution side, making insurance products easier to understand, by a couple of companies that you, sounds like you covered while you were there.
Todd Eyler: So there’s like, there’s a company called Brella Insurance, and it’s part of Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company in Kansas City. So that’s the underwriting company and they have the products, but Brella is kind of the marketing part of that. And they’ve listed, so they’ve listed 13,000 different health conditions from moderate to severe to catastrophic. So you can easily see, here’s the ones that I’m concerned about, and then based on the ones you’re concerned about, they can configure products on the back end with Fidelity Security Life Insurance. So it just makes it really easy for the consumers not to feel like they have to be a lawyer to understand these complicated policies and just very simply, what am I concerned about and match a product to that. So I thought that was pretty cool.
Steve Brandt: Yeah, so that person, can use Binah, Grail, and Gradient AI and know exactly what’s wrong with them, and then go to Brella! Well, I think Todd, this has been [a] really helpful and exciting conversation. Sounds like you had a real fruitful trip to Las Vegas and usually what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but this time we’re making you talk! So any insights as to where you’re going to be a year from now, when you go back to ITC and what you might be focusing on, or just kind of expanding on the same themes?
Todd Eyler: Expanding on the same thing. We didn’t have time to talk about fraud, but there’s a lot of really interesting things going on with fraud detection as well, that I might dig into a little bit more, but the wellness is very exciting. It just helps the group insurance get into the good news business, helping people get healthier versus waiting for a claim and billing them. It’s kind of a very positive thing for the industry that I’m excited about, the whole wellness [business].
Steve Brandt: And it’s amazing to see the progress that we’re making as an industry. And it’s amazing to see what ITC has really fostered. Which is this huge event that all of these insurance technology startups and entrepreneurs can kind of gear their year around, and really roll out some very exciting tools that the industry can take advantage of to help not only their members, but help their business at the same time. So thank you Todd, for everything that you do for Vitech, and thank you for stopping by.
Todd Eyler: All right, Steve, take care.
Steve Brandt: Okay, now it’s time for the Brandt Rant! And for the Rant today, we’re going to be talking about climate change, a global issue that we all should be concerned with. And certainly when storms like the one that hit Florida back in late September, October rolls through and becomes the biggest storm of a risk area like Florida has ever seen. We all have to be thinking, wow, this has to be real. And what does that mean for insurance? [What] a lot of people may not understand is that we are woefully underinsured, uh, for climate events in this country. Florida, for instance, only 18% of the people who were affected by that storm actually had insurance. I mean, that is a small number. And really, it’s the insurance industry to blame. They have been running away from this type of risk and running away from all risk for a long time now. And it really is time for them to innovate, to innovate insurance products that will allow them to run toward the risk and underpin our society with resiliency, with resilient products and tools that they can use to help them in a time of crisis, and not just leave them relying on the federal government to jump in with FEMA.
And it’s sorely needed. It’s an obvious solve, and something that we all should be rallying around in our industry to find ways that we can help these communities at risk, with innovative insurance products that could help them in their time of need. And that’s my Rant!