Canadian Underwriter

How the pandemic will change insurers’ medical assessments

September 23, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted some insurers’ medical examiners to consider virtual exams instead of in-person exams when the examiner needs to speak with the claimant.

“We work with a number of firms that provide independent medical assessments and evaluations and we really noted that the industry, which did not often use virtual appointments pre-COVID, is now much more open to it,” said Nicholas Chepesiuk, CEO of virtual care technology provider OnCall Health, in an interview Tuesday. “We are seeing a large uptick in usage from that industry for our technology.”

OnCall announced Wednesday that one of its clients is HVE Healthcare Assessments, which offers virtual psychology, psychiatry, and vocational assessments. Vaughan, Ont.-based HVE’s business includes independent medical examinations for insurers.

HVE has been in production with the OnCall virtual care platform since May 2020, HVE vice president Micah Vernon told Canadian Underwriter Tuesday.

Some drivers independent of COVID make virtual assessments beneficial for all parties, Vernon said in an interview.

“Travel is costly and time-consuming and travelling may make some claimants uncomfortable,” said Vernon. “For some people, taking time off work for a medical appointment can be a burden for them.”

HVE started considering virtual assessments a few years ago.

“Privacy was a huge concern for us,” said Vernon. “At the time, a number of vendors offered encryption that we require, but most if not all were in the United States. Most of our customers are based in Canada and they require data storage in Canada. That was a stumbling block.”

“The video conferencing technology that we built is hosted on exclusively on Canadian servers on Canadian soil,” meaning it is not subject to foreign laws such as the United States Patriot Act, added Chepesiuk.

With OnCall, HVE can do three types of assessments virtually: psychology, psychiatry and vocational assessments. There are advantages to doing psychology assessments by video compared to over the phone, Vernon notes. For example, a rapport can be developed between the psychologist and the claimant.

In order for HVE to conduct a virtual assessment, the claimant would have to be willing to proceed. Some claimants may not be willing to proceed, said Vernon.

In order for a claimant to participate in a virtual assessment, they require a mobile device or computer with a camera, an Internet connection, and an email address.

“COVID made it almost a necessity for some customers, because some claimants may not feel comfortable coming into an assessment centre to be seen in person,” said Vernon.

Chepesiuk explained how OnCall’s technology is different from some off-the-shelf video conferencing services.

“It is end-to- end encrypted, so the video and audio stream is only decipherable to those who are on the video call. The content of the video conference itself is never stored or recorded anywhere,” said Chepesiuk.

OnCall also uses 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard technology.

AES has become the encryption algorithm of choice for governments and financial institutions, author Ron Franklin wrote in an earlier blog post for data provider Precisely. It would take a fast supercomputer trillions of years to crack 256-bit encryption using a brute force attack, Franklin wrote at the time.

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2 Comments » for How the pandemic will change insurers’ medical assessments
  1. CBD Canada says:

    Hello. Considering what time we live in, it is very strange that technology such as video calls was not seen as something worthwhile. The main thing is to keep the data confidential. I was very pleased that OnCall uses end-to-end encryption and data is stored in our country. Let’s say I would not like my confidential data to be stored on some server in China.
    Thank you for telling us about OnCall in detail.

  2. Gloria says:

    SIMAC has been using the On-Call Platform for years. While we started with a handful of Virtual Assessments in 2017 – because we were already quite familiar with the platform and very comfortable with the Virtual assessment process, (PRE COVID) we were able to quickly and seamlessly transition most of our in-person to virtual assessments.

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