Digital is the way to survive and redefine new biz models: Umesh Padala, CDO & CTO, Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd

Umesh Padala

The outbreak of Covid has changed the paradigm forever for industries across the globe. While certain sectors are facing a slowdown, there is momentum in certain other sectors. Amid the pandemic, Star Health and Allied Insurance ensured a digital-first approach and continued communicating with its customers, and helped them get accustomed to the new normal. End-to-end service delivery was enabled on the digital platform says Umesh Padala, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) & Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

1. What are your views on the role of technology in redefining the insurance sector amid the outbreak of covid pandemic?

Covid Pandemic, cutting across industries and sectors has changed the paradigm forever. Multiple business processes underwent a rapid transformation – contactless business, remote working, outcome-driven models, raising capital, etc. have re-defined the industry.

There is a slowdown in certain sectors, there is momentum in certain other sectors. New opportunities are opening.

In current times, so many rapid changes are occurring simultaneously. Adapting to changes, managing the change effectively, using digital technologies is critical for the success of the organizations.

Managing immense challenges and opportunities effectively at the same time are testing the resilience of organisations. Digital is aiding and adding to the rapidly evolving change cycles, business models are being redefined continuously. Digital is the way for survival, growth and redefining the new biz models.

Questions being asked:

  • How good are our models to predict pandemics, was this the last pandemic? Has there been an AI prediction of the pandemic – what would industries, organizations do differently?
  • AI & ML, Automation are evolving rapidly, which would be next?
  • SARS, Ebola, MERS, Covid. What would be different post-Covid, what would be the new normal once the pandemic is over?

2. What major challenges did you come across in meeting the customer requirements? What measures are you taking in initiating the claims faster?

Adopting digital before Covid hit us helped in providing rapid response to covid. Research, design workshops, user study groups, customer feedback loops, feature-based launches were adopted. Initial hick-ups, blocks were overcome quickly. Communicating with customers was critical, sent across through multiple digital channels. As customers responded to the new normal, business continuity was established.

Also Read:- Insurance sector, likely to witness dramatic increase during Covid-19: Dr S Prakash, MD, Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd

End to end customer experience is very close to the team, walking the extra miles is the norm at Star Health Insurance. It is a culture at the organization, adapt to digital capabilities and servicing the customers were seamless. Across the verticals, digital capabilities were enabled for providers, customers, agents, claims teams to improve the experience. End to end service delivery was enabled on the digital platform.

3. How do you see technologies namely Artificial Intelligence, Data Center and Cloud, with regards to its relevance across the insurance sector?

In short, a lot of work is already done and at the same time, there is a long way to go to get the full benefits. Having learned and seen the success in digital, teams are working on solving long-pending industry problems, where AI, Cloud, Digital are showing the way. There is a need for a greater push for industry synthesis starting with various provider networks, partners, payers all the way to enhance better services for customers. Teams are fully equipped to manage operations remotely, digitally with low touch operations across sales and service channels, this is a new reality, adequate resilience and redundancy are built into the systems, processes and people.

4. What changes did you witness in the handling security after the covid outbreak when work from home/ remote model has been accepted widely?

Security is an area of paramount importance, policies are enhanced for network, data, cloud, infrastructure, end-point security & continuous governance. Polices for working from home, bringing your own device, mobile device management has been enhanced. Continuous learning, awareness campaigns and roadshows were conducted.

5. What practices would you like to carry forward in the next year from now (pandemic period)? How are you planning 2021?

Post pandemic, specific learnings would be carried forward. Particularly, in the areas of digital, automation, remote working, self-learning bots, adopting telehealth, wellness, elderly care and preventive health care to mention a few.

We are looking forward to the times ahead in health, health care services. There is a necessity for more awareness about the need for comprehensive health insurance. Management and teams at Star Health are fully committed to improving customer experience, empowering digitally, bringing synergy in the industry as a whole, increasing insurance penetration and making health care affordable for all.


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