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China insurtech Kaitaiming drives into health

Partnering with fellow A.I. company DocDoc creates solutions for China insurers and private banks.

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Beijing-based Kaitaiming Technology, an insurtech specializing in using artificial intelligence to provide risk controls to auto insurers, is expanding into healthcare.

It is doing so by partnering with Singapore’s DocDoc to help affluent mainland Chinese access medical care in Southeast Asia. DocDoc is also an A.I. company providing granular information about medical specialists in eight regional markets.

“We will offer DocDoc’s app to consumers through our institutional clients,” said Peter Cheng, executive director at KTM in Shenzhen, who is helping the software company move into health. “This includes insurance companies but also private banks with clients who want access to overseas treatment.”

KTM’s model

KTM has established itself in the auto insurance space, and serves clients such as Ping An, China Pacific, and Taiping in the property and casualty space. It was established in 2015 by founders including chairman Wang Hui, and institutional backing from Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners China, Everbright Trust and Qianhai Reinsurance.

It uses A.I. to automate fraud-risk detection on claims for auto accidents, with more than 10,000 rules written into its algorithms. This saves insurance clients money as well as expedites their payout service; KTM splits the saved earnings with its clients. Cheng would not specify how many claims the company handles but says each claim takes about two seconds to analyze and report to the client.

Our net catches lots of small fish

Peter Cheng, KTM

“Some of our competitors focus on catching the big fish,” Cheng said of KTM’s risk controls. “Our net catches lots of small fish.”

Cole Sirucek, DocDoc’s co-founder and CEO, said of KTM: “They are the leading Chinese insurtech when it comes to adoption, relationships, and sophistication.”

Virtualizing healthcare

For DocDoc, the tie-up represents a way into the China market and the next step in its own expansion. Sirucek and company president Grace Park (his wife) co-founded it in 2012 to give patients the data they need to make informed decisions about healthcare. From a Singapore direct-to-consumer beginning, DocDoc became a B2B2C provider, building a database of doctors and clinicians across Southeast Asia, made available through insurance companies.

Sirucek says the company is more than a telemedicine service or a mere “doctor directory”, although those are aspects of its platform. It views itself as a big-data company, providing over 500 different data points on each doctor, from education to specialization, track record, and softer criteria such as bedside manner.

“Telemedicine is a feature, but it doesn’t build a company,” Sirucek said. “Two-thirds of telemedicine visits result in someone needing to see a doctor.”

He says making health virtual has been slower than, say, selling rides or hotel rooms. “Virtualization of travel needs took off after companies like Alipay built a robust payments gateway in China,” he said. “An industry needs an entire structure of information, from provider analytics to billing, that can be collected and stored.”

The result is that telemedicine by itself doesn’t address rising costs in medical care, because the most spending goes to specialist care that telemedicine can’t solve.

Sirucek’s argument is that insightful doctor discovery, not just a glorified telephone book, can: “The only way to break the back of medical inflation is to empower consumers with choices of high-quality but average-cost care.”

Better together

The opportunity in China is especially alluring. The public healthcare system works for most everyday ailments, but not for drawn-out procedures. The private healthcare sector can cater to this but at very high, U.S.-like prices. Southeast Asian hospitals on the other hand offer quality care, a much nicer experience, and lower cost. But Chinese people lack awareness of what’s out there.

The only way to break the back of medical inflation is to empower consumers

Cole Sirucek, DocDoc

The partnership therefore gives KTM a ready-made service to launch its expansion into health insurance and gives DocDoc a means to reach a large new set of consumers.

Branding-wise, for auto insurance, KTM has stayed in the background. But in health, the partners will be relying on DocDoc’s app being opened to their insurer or private-bank clients, and KTM will include its logo there. The idea is this is not a white-label solution: patients are more likely to trust a third-party, international engine recommending foreign doctors than leaving that to their local insurance company.

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China insurtech Kaitaiming drives into health