How Do You Sum Up a Year Like 2020?

How do you sum up a year like 2020? Thinking back, there have always been challenges. How we prepare and respond to sudden change or disruption in life makes us who we are today. I moved to NYC from London in 2000 and was instantly captivated by the energy, the food, and of course, the people. There were ebbs and flows, but nothing ever stopped. Change was constant and after 15 years in the Big Apple, I just about got the hang of it. 2001 was the biggest change and disruption on that journey. Not only a disruption, but a redefining moment in my life and in U.S. history.

Watching the city respond and rebuild in the aftermath of the September 11 attack on the twin towers taught me a couple of things that I have carried with me since. Change is inevitable, but with patience things will improve. Perhaps the biggest lesson, however, was you cannot do it all alone. You need to trust in the people around you and work together, as a community. What I saw following 9/11 was the coming together of a group of people unlike anything I have ever seen before. It also taught me that empathy for the customer needs to be the foundation and driver for the digital products that we bring to market.

As we leave 2020 and pull ourselves into 2021, we are faced once again with an enormous task ahead of us. The mantra for 2020 has been to innovate, build and respond quickly. 2019 was already dominated with talk of the perils of missing the digital train and getting stuck in an analog rut. We have heard many times how the insurance industry needs to take a leaf out of the Amazon play book and create a customer experience that exemplifies simplicity.

Are we there yet? Not quite. There have, however, been some significant leaps made by some of the folks who do 'get it' and those investments are reflected in a better insurance experience.

Anybody who has worked in the incumbent space knows that the art of the possible is often tempered with a healthy dose of reality of the now. Legacy systems, antiquated workflows and processes that have not been touched in 20 or 30 years are relatively common within the technology landscape. As much as we want to drive and initiate change, the pace of change is often not quite where we want it to be. That does not mean we have to give up.

I had the fortune of moderating a wonderful webinar this week, on behalf of Reuters events. The topic? "Progress over Perfection: Build the Best Digital Claims Journey". The idea that we need to perfect the delivery before making an impact is frankly outdated. The waterfall model of delivering solutions is giving way to experimentation driven by an agile mindset.

So where does that leave us going into 2021? Innovative technology has provided us with the opportunity to close some of the gaps that exist within a legacy landscape and do it in a way that is incremental, not necessarily a rip and replace. Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation has created an opportunity to bring a level of automation to parts of the value chain that up until now have been disparate and fragmented. The Application Programming Interface (API) economy has opened doors for collaboration and integration across verticals that previously had not been thoughts of.

Does this mean we have to panic and start replacing things ad hoc? Not at all. In the Intelligent Automation space, faster does not necessarily mean better. Automating the wrong process, or not even understanding where that process fits within the bigger picture can be incredibly damaging, to back-end operations and to the customer experience.

The Bigger Picture

In 2021 we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Not all our problems stem from speed. Agility is incredibly important, but simply doing things faster does not necessarily equate to better. We need to be asking the right questions and answering those questions with the right solutions and the appropriate technology.

Customer Moments + Empathy

Top of mind needs to be the customer. I think we have all been impacted in some way during 2020 by Covid-19. We know and understand the pain caused by uncertainty. As an industry, we have an opportunity now to lead with empathy. The loss of a loved one and the confusion and fear that may come from an exorbitant medical bill is only exacerbated by inconsistent messaging and a lack of transparency.

Our Journey

It has been an incredibly busy year for us. I joined Care Bridge International in March of this year and it has been a whirlwind ever since. Teaming up with such a terrific and talented group of people has made my role as Chief Innovation Officer quite an easy one to slot into. Empathy and company culture are at the very heart of everything that we do and deliver for the industry.

COVID-19 Calculator

Case in point, we made a very quick decision to launch a free COVID-19 Calculator in March of this year. To bring some guidance and transparency around COVID-19 and the long-term impact, the COVID-19 Calculator offers a forecast of medical treatment and costs for an individual having a confirmed diagnosis of the COVID-19 Virus. Customer focused and needs-driven, we identified an industry pain-point, a potential source of confusion and friction for the end customer and delivered the calculator from inception to launch in under 14 days.


We have also made a concerted effort in 2020 to share our knowledge with others across the industry. We launched CAREForwardLIVE earlier this year to bring insight and greater transparency to not only the products that we are building and delivering, but to share our knowledge around how those products are being built. You will hear me talk frequently about how customer centric thinking and activities has helped us launch solutions that turn zeros and ones into hearts.

Explaining Machine Learning to Fido

Dimitri Linde, our Head of Data & Analytics, recently launched a series of his own - Explaining Machine Learning to Fido - where he demystifies the world of artificial intelligence and big data to bring greater transparency to how we apply machine learning to bodily injury claims. One of many facets of what we do at Care Bridge International.

Claim MAP

Through customer journey mapping and the use of our proprietary Bridge-IT platform, we recently released our latest product to market - ClaimMAP, Claim Management Action Plan, a precision-based tool that identifies opportunities for improvement in claim outcomes and cost savings in minutes, identifying specific, targeted actions that can be taken immediately by a claim handler to gain pro-active, immediate results for claims.

Final Thoughts - Technology When & Where It is Needed

As I wrap up my final blog post of the year, I would like you all to think carefully about how we as an industry can leverage innovative technology to drive a better customer experience. Speed and agility will always be important, but how and where we leverage technology on the customer journey is of greater importance. I hope to approach 2021 through a compassionate lens. We are in a healing and rebuilding process. What tools do we need to do that more effectively? What can we continue to build and deliver as an industry to bring greater transparency and peace of mind to our customers?

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Take a deep breath, enjoy a cup of tea, eggnog or whatever else takes your fancy. 2021 will be here before we know it and let us help each other in 2021 to create a friendlier, more customer focused industry driven less by zeros and ones and more by hearts and minds.

Happy Holidays.

Chris Frankland

Chief Innovation Officer

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