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Southern Cross's new digital human answers our health insurance questions

Southern Cross Health Society is the first health insurance company on a global scale to launch a digital human.

Sunday, November 24th 2019, 3:12PM 1 Comment

Southern Cross Health Society is paving the way for future thinking and innovation in health insurance in New Zealand by launching an interactive new way to help customers make decisions surrounding health insurance.

Its new staff member, Aimee, is an AI-powered digital assistant. She was created to sound and look like a familiar and friendly face, to offer warm and easily understandable answers to questions about health insurance and the New Zealand health system.

Currently Aimee just answers questions around why someone should buy health insurance and why they should choose Southern Cross.

However, there are plans to link her to Southern Cross's extensive medical knowledge base and she could be programmed to do needs analysis.

Southern Cross chief marketing officer Chris Watney says Aimee was tested with financial advisers, and they could use Aimee to explain some of the basic things allowing them to focus on "higher value conversations".

Watney says health can be a sensitive topic where vulnerability and emotions come into play, so a digital human is an easy and comfortable first step before talking to an actual human.

He said in the United States there had been research which showed returned servicemen preferred to use AI-based services to discuss mental health issues.

Aimee was designed by UneeQ alongside Southern Cross staff, to ensure the focus wasn’t all on efficiency but rather, on how empathy and understanding could be emphasised.

She has been "loaded with a bunch of questions and answers". Through machine learning her answers to questions will develop.

Good Returns put Aimee to the test; here are some of the questions and answers:

Why should I join Southern Cross?

That's a good question; and I think I have some great answers for you. Southern Cross is New Zealand's largest and most trusted health insurer. We've been looking after Kiwis for more than 50 years, and today we have more than 870,000 members. We're also a not for profit organisation, so our entire focus is on helping our members live their healthiest lives; not on making money for shareholders. Would you like me to tell you about the benefits of Southern Cross? Or simply, why health insurance is a good idea?

Why is health insurance a good idea?

Health insurance can give you peace of mind that you can access treatment when you need it the most. You will have more control about when and where your treatment takes place without the financial burden. Would you like to know how public health, ACC and private healthcare work in New Zealand? Or you can ask me another question.

Why is Southern Cross better than AIA health insurance?

Well, we're confident we compare really well to other insurers, but that's a question you need to answer for yourself. Would you like me to tell you why more than 870,000 Kiwis trust us?

Should I use an adviser to buy health insurance?

You got me there. I don't understand your question. Maybe you could try to rephrase your question?

Where can I buy Southern Cross health insurance?

Absolutely. Why join Southern Cross? Where do I begin? I can tell you more about cover for families; hassle-free claims; My Southern Cross; and about some great member discounts and offers.

How about using a financial adviser?

I understand what you mean, but unfortunately I'm not trained to recommend a financial adviser. If you call us, one of my colleagues can help you. Would you like the number?

Tags: artificial intelligence health insurance Mental health Southern Cross

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Comments from our readers

On 25 November 2019 at 9:34 am All hat no cattle said:
and they just drift further away from us (advisers).

I'm going to call something out here:
"Watney says health can be a sensitive topic where vulnerability and emotions come into play, so a digital human is an easy and comfortable first step before talking to an actual human.

Southern Cross is disturbingly eager for that "actual human" to be one of their own, in house humans, and not someone with knowledge of and access to a variety of plans and prices.

One more thing: if answering questions around health insurance with someone who is interested in buying health insurance is not "high value" to you ... just quietly......

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