Study Highlights Opportunities of Digitization in the Health Insurance Market

Press release /

Researchers of Fraunhofer IMW and Leipzig University, together with the Gesundheitsforen Leipzig, have investigated the state of digitization in public and private health insurance companies. Now the results of the survey have been published in a joint study.

"The health insurance market is becoming increasingly digital. Public and private health insurers are using digital information and communication technologies in all specialist areas and developing innovative applications for their employees and insurers. There is also progress in the handling of Big Data. With the help of our study, we can clearly show these developments, name challenges and limits in the current digitization process, and derive recommendations for action to successfully shape the digital transformation," explain Prof. Dr. Dubravko Radić, Deputy Head of the Price and Service Management Unit at Fraunhofer IMW and holder of the Chair of Service Management at Leipzig University, and Dr. Marija Radić, Head of the Price and Service Management Unit at the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW in Leipzig.

According to a recent Bitkom study on Health 4.0, 88 percent of the population regularly look into their health, more than 50 percent of them online. With regard to information procurement on the Internet and the use of digital care services, such as telemedicine, an increasing openness on the demand side can be observed. This results in a certain pressure to adapt on the supply side. Health insurers play a special role here, as they are the largest and most important players in the primary healthcare market. But how well positioned are the health insurers digitally? How are they dealing with innovations in terms of their range of services, the use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT), and new corporate strategies and business models? There have been isolated studies on the status of digitization in the healthcare industry in the past. However, a current and comprehensive examination of the degree of digitization of private and public health insurers as well as detailed analyses of the various specialist areas does not yet exist. This empirical study is intended to close this research gap.

Prof. Dr. Thorsten Posselt, Director of Fraunhofer IMW, explains: "With this study, the Fraunhofer IMW combines knowledge transfer with innovation in the digital health market. The joint analysis with Gesundheitsforen Leipzig builds on previous collaborations that will be continued in the future."

As part of the online survey, around 300 employees with different positions and functions from 148 public and private health insurers and their associations were questioned. A separate questionnaire was designed for each of the specialist areas surveyed - supply/service, customer/service, marketing/sales, HR/organization, processes/IT, legal/compliance/data protection, strategy/corporate development, corporate planning/controlling/finance. To validate the results, a written survey was then conducted among the experts from the respective departments. Their statements were incorporated into the study in the form of quotes.

"Even though Big Data, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are currently the talk of the town when it comes to tomorrow's medicine, the real revolution that the digitization of healthcare is bringing about is often overlooked: the new role of patients. They are no longer passive bystanders, but are becoming managers of their health. This must not be forgotten in all transformation efforts," says Roland Nagel, Managing Director of Gesundheitsforen Leipzig GmbH.

As a conclusion, the following can be said: The digital transformation of the health insurance market is already in full swing and has affected all specialist areas. However, significant potential for expansion is still seen everywhere. External difficulties in the digitization process are primarily seen in the legal framework, lack of standards and uncertainty about future technologies. Internally, most of the respondents see difficulties in the lack of digital competence among employees, a lack of time resources and the conversion of existing IT systems. Around a third of health insurers also describe their change culture as rather low. In order to meet customers' changing demands for digital offerings and develop new care applications, two-thirds of private health insurers and 44 percent of public health insurers are cooperating with startups. One in three public health insurers is making additional innovation budgets available for strategic digitization projects. Communication channels are also increasingly geared to the behavior of the insured. More than two-thirds of public health insurers now offer an app for self-administration of their own data, and exchanges via Facebook are no longer uncommon. In the organization of work, efficiency, transparency and quality tend to increase on average thanks to digitization, but on the other hand there is a noticeable decrease in motivation among employees.

The full study is available for free download on the Gesundheitsforen website (in German).

Contact Persons:

Fraunhofer IMW
Neumarkt 9-19, 04109 Leipzig

Price and Servicemanagement Unit
Dr. Maria Radic
Phone: +49 341 231039-124

Dirk Böttner-Langolf                              

Phone: +49 341 231039-250


Gesundheitsforen Leipzig GmbH
Marketing und Kommunikation
Vicki Richter-Worch
Hainstraße 16, 04109 Leipzig
Telefon +49 341 98988337


With around 15,000 contacts, Gesundheitsforen Leipzig is the network partner for stakeholders in the healthcare industry. In user groups, workshops and specialist symposia, they offer their customers various communication platforms and let them participate in their network. At the more than 30 topic-specific events with 1,800 participants per year, Gesundheitsforen Leipzig discusses current developments in the healthcare sector and generates new knowledge. By working in interdisciplinary teams, they develop and implement practical solutions for the management of health insurance companies, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies in the form of consulting, software development or data analysis as knowledge service providers. Their aim is to promote and sustain knowledge transfer between industry stakeholders. As a leading provider of business intelligence and analytics solutions, they are also committed to research.

The Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW looks back on more than twelve years of applied socio-economic research and experience at its Leipzig location. Around 170 employees from 20 countries support customers and partners from business, industry, politics, research and society to benefit from globalization and digitization as a driver for innovation. The benefits of socio-economic and applied research for people, the dynamics of a knowledge-based society and the future of industrial production are the focus of the Institute's international projects, network activities and analyses. The interdisciplinary research team provides scientifically sound support to companies, organisations, institutions, countries, municipalities and regions in strategic decision-making processes. Originally founded as the Fraunhofer Center for Central and Eastern Europe MOEZ in 2006, the content and strategic realignment of the institute, which is certified according to DIN EN ISO 9001:2015 DNV-GL, has been reflected in the new name Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW since 2016. The institute's competencies are innovation research, knowledge and technology transfer and corporate development in international competition.