Insurtech Startup Pitching Chatbots for Workers’ Comp Claims

By Jim Sams | March 22, 2019

For years, automobile insurers have used automatic dialogue devices, called chatbots, to field calls from policyholders when they report claims.

Last year, personal insurance startup Lemonade took the technology up a notch, boasting that it was closing claims in seconds with an automated process that involves a chatbox interview followed up by a quick anti-fraud screening.

Now, a Florida-based health care technology provider says that with workers’ compensation claims adjusters often handling 180 or more cases at a time, a chatbox may be an injured worker’s best friend.

ChronWell has developed an automated workers’ compensation claims process that connects injured workers to a chatbot that can answer questions, schedule medical appointments and even send reminders of upcoming appointments.

Dr. David Deitz, a former medical director for Liberty Mutual and a contracted adviser to ChronWell, said the company now has eight months experience with the system in partnership with “more than one” California employer. He said hundreds of workers have used the system, many of them in the agricultural sector.

Deitz calls ChronWell a “concierge model tech company.” He said most claims adjusters don’t have time to quickly respond when injured workers try to reach them.

After making initial contact with an injured worker, the ChronWell chatbot determines the best course of action by recommending self-care, on-site care or a health care facility, the company says. The service provides follow-up with the worker and manages the claim.

“Let’s let the chatbots, let’s let artificial intelligence, handle routine tasks like scheduling medical appointments,” Deitz said. “A lot of routine tasks you don’t need a human to do.”

Chatbots aren’t exactly known for compassion. A research paper published for the 2018 International Conference on e-Business Engineering says 75% of customers who used popular chatbox systems experienced poor customer service.

State Farm poked fun at robotic customer service in a television commercial last year that featured a robot insurance agent that clumsily tried to interact with a policyholder, an obvious jab at competitor Lemonade.

Deitz acknowledged that ChronWell will have to overcome that negative perception. He said so far, less than half of the injured workers who were asked to download its app do so. He said younger workers may be more receptive than their older peers.

“There is some suspicion among injured workers about the use of mobile applications, but that is something that we’re going to work to solve.”

Deitz noted that the Chronwell program uses artificial intelligence, also known as machine learning.

“One of the things about AI is the computer can learn from experience,” he said. “If frequent questions asked the machine knows better how to answer that.”

ChronWell was launched in September 2017 by Dr. Joe Rubinsztain, ChronWell’s CEO, and his brother Sam Rubinsztain, who is in charge of product development. In February, the company announced that it had raised $4.5 million in a Series A funding round.

Deitz said he got involved with the company after more than 30 years in the health care technology field. Before Liberty Mutual, he worked for a utilization review software company in the 1990s.

“I believe strongly that we need to use the best tech, to deliver the best care,” he said. “The way to do that globally is to pay attention to what tech can help us with.”

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