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Delays in APS Project - Learnings and Wrap Up

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 15, 2017 1:24:42 PM / by Jason Yu, Innovation Chef

Jason Yu, Innovation Chef

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It has been six months since the Cookhouse Lab opened its doors to the insurance industry with the vision of making insurance better.  There have been several amazing co-creation projects to date including Insurance Loyalty & Rewards and Blockchain Use Cases For Insurance.  Each of these produced valuable outputs for the individual participating member insurance companies, and the Delays in APS project was no different. This project is the first since the inception of our lab (though we anticipate many more) that delivered a solution scope for an industry minimum viable product.

For any life insurance business, the requirement for an attending physician's statement (APS) is an unpleasant experience for underwriters, physicians and applicants.  As this is a 30+ year old process today, a new industry solution for a single source for APS information would benefit all parties.  It was this shared pain for the APS that brought the consortium of insurance companies together which included three carriers and three reinsurers. 

Members at times expressed their potential concerns of IP conflicts and creating new value with peers that one completes with in the market. As we continue to embark on our co-creating journey, we are persistently being challenged by:


"Are competitors willing to work together?"

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Cookhouse Lab has proven, over the last several months, that yes, competitors are not only willing to, but motivated to work with other peers to solve for problems that they collectively face.

Throughout our 90-day journey together, as expected, there were hesitations amongst the group of industry peers at first. However, through an iterative approach, several techniques were used to support and improve this unique collaborative effort.

From Day 1 to Day 90, the project team always referred to themselves as APSync, which was their tribe name and identity when they worked in the Cookhouse Lab.  Not only did this bring the team together, but it also discouraged identifying themselves with their own organization when working on the project.


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Although the pain of long delays, a legacy paper based process and physician relationship friction are shared amongst all insurance companies, it was the clear focus on the impact of these deficiencies on the customer/applicant experience that unified the effort of the companies.


Introduce A Mutual Discovery Experience
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As an insurtech innovation lab, Cookhouse Lab introduces many new concepts and insurance startups to incumbent insurance companies.  Although there are varying degrees of awareness, we purposely introduced a wide spectrum of current (eg. medical clinic interviewsand bleeding edge innovations (eg. Insurance focused OCR, machine learning and underwriting API's) to keep the team motivated and excited to discover together.

In addition, what also supported the success of the project's MVP output was the focus on the problem statement throughout the 90 days. Living through the pain felt amongst all of the APS ecosystem was shared amongst all team members whether you were an underwriter or part of our customer feedback groups who listened to customers who felt the pain.


Supporting Shared IP Creation Through Clear Role Definitions

Wrap Up Blog 6.pngAlthough it would be ideal to have a team of generalists that could fluidly move from one role to the next, I have found that member companies have been sending role specific project members.  By assigning clear key roles towards the MVP output, no one member or organization has the entire picture until delivery date.  For this particular project, some role areas include: 

  • APS industry stakeholder statistics & current state scan 
  • Financial analysis – investment, forecast & valuation 
  • New underwriter role definition & training 
  • International market opportunity & MVP context 
  • Technology architecture 
  • Go to market strategy & phased roll out

Through everyone's unique and valuable talents, this project led to the creation of a highly attractive opportunity of ~$90MM that is supported by the proposed project MVP. This opportunity is composed of cost savings, productivity and new business all of each were uncovered by the team at the Cookhouse Lab who leveraged our unique co-creation design thinking experience.


As the 90 day sprint came to a conclusion, the project team had a distinct experience at the Cookhouse Lab.  It was more akin to saying farewell to good friends rather than the conclusion of another company project.  It is a unique opportunity to work with a competitor.  One that has produced surprising innovation agility and output, and quite amazingly produced an MVP that can vastly improve an APS process that hasn't changed in over 30 years. Marrying innovation trends such as machine learning and API's with legacy insurance experiences sparked several new ideas and insights that the members will keep beyond their time on the project. Do you have a competitor collaboration story? 

Want more? Check out the Delays in APS project management report:

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Topics: innovation, delays in aps

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