Harnessing the power of data analytics could help insurers make significant cuts to the rising cost of workforce healthcare benefit programmes around the world.
That is according to research from Mercer Marsh Benefits, which found that medical costs increased by an average of 9.5% last year - almost three times inflation in most developed countries.
However, a survey of 225 insurers revealed that one in six do not offer a digital claim capability, hindering the chances of employees accessing quick and affordable healthcare.
"There is a race within the insurer community to collect and use patient data more effectively," Mercer Marsh Benefits managing director, Andrew Perry, said.
"If progress is made in this area, it will help companies better address the needs of their employees and achieve the larger goal of a more affordable, quality-focused healthcare system for all."
The research also found that only 14% of companies in 62 countries offer sufficient preventive lifestyle programs for staff, while 40% do not provide access to counselling.
This is despite mental health being the third highest risk to medical costs, with companies now being urged to adopt integrated strategies underpinned by strong digital capabilities.
"As health care costs become more material, employers are questioning the intent and design of programs," Mercer Marsh Benefits senior partner, John Deegan, said.
"Given the digital health revolution underway, we are seeing progressive employers redefine health and benefit principles and question traditional medical insurance designs."
This comes after insurers were warned of the threat they face from alternative providers, with more than 30% of UK consumers willing to buy insurance from firms like Google and Facebook.
Vast resources, consumer data, and reputation for excellent customer service were identified as strengths for these tech giants, with insurers urged to collaborate in order to leverage their knowledge.
"Over the next two years the threat posed by both alternative providers and reinsurers will likely become a reality," GlobalData financial analyst, Daniel Pearce, said.
"From a consumer perspective, increased competition in the market and the implementation of the latest technologies will only prove to be beneficial, with the potential for lower premiums and increasingly personalised products."