Chinese insurtech company CareVoice expands to Hong Kong market

CareVoice's CEO Sebastian Gaudin said this expansion means a move into a more mature health insurance market for the startup.
By Laura Lovett

What Happened?

In its first move outside of mainland China, CareVoice, a Shanghai-based digital health startup targeting the insurance market, has announced its plans to expand to the Hong Kong market. This move will enable public and private insurance customers in Kong Kong to access the service. 

The Chinese startup also announced that it is teaming up with Inter Partner Assistance Hong Kong to deliver joint offerings. 

The impact 

CareVoice is a cost and quality transparency tool that is available to the public, but includes a premium version for those whose insurers buy into it. Insurance members can use the AI system to help triage their symptoms before going to see a doctor.

The company started out in mainland China, where private healthcare and private health insurance are both still relatively young markets. The tool was developed so that the patient consumer could view the differences in both cost and quality. Through different partnerships with tech startups it has also been expanding its features, and now includes an AI-based virtual nurse and fraud protection. 

While there is an overlap in clientele between mainland China and Hong Kong, expanding into the latter means moving into a more mature health insurance market. 

“Hong Kong is part of greater China and there are significant similarities between mainland China and the Hong Kong market because you have people from mainland either buying insurance in Hong Kong or consuming part of the care there. You also have people from Hong Kong commuting and traveling and working in mainland China,” CEO Sebastien Gaudin told MobiHealthNews. “There are now a few synergies that can serve insurance members in mainland and in Hong Kong. But Hong Kong is a very interesting market because you are [entering] a mature health insurance market. In Hong Kong, over 60 percent of people have private insurance to cover their routine clinical needs.”

The latest news also means a partnership with Inter Partner Assistance Hong Kong. As part of the deal, the companies will jointly offer and give customers an integrated platform for mobile, web, and WeChat accounts, as well as access to a voice-based virtual health assistant powered by AI. It will also give users an overview of their medical care coverage and benefits, and help personalize the digital and health services. 

Part of the idea is that insurers will be able to save money with the virtual health assistant’s symptom checker and triage and e-claims reimbursement process. 

The trend 

CareVoice has been partnering with some of the largest Chinese insurers including Ping An, AXA, and Chubb. It has also been growing its funding. In January the startup announced $2 million in early stage funding from Haitoa Capital and SOSV. 

Consumer-centric health products like CareVoice have been on the rise recently. Even traditional consumer-facing sites like Yelp have become a new way to search for doctors and reviews. Gaudin said this trend is particularly true in China. 

“China is a market that is very strongly influenced by consumers and I think it is how we started the company,” Gaudin said. “We started the company by observing the mistrust by consumers of medical providers. We are an open platform to the public and everything we do now — even if it is a B2B2C level — it is done with the consumer's interest. And our product will be helping individuals or consumers manage their health either by an insurance company or an employer.”

On the record

Gaudin discussed the new technologies that will now be avilable in Hong Kong. 

“Our existing infrastructure and robust presence in mainland China gives seamless experience and mobility for end-users with healthcare needs in both geographies, regardless of their insurance policy origin. Our Hong Kong platform incorporates proven innovative technology solutions such as AI voice- based virtual health assistant for checking symptoms, powered by Sensely with medical content originated from Mayo Clinic, that further integrates healthcare navigation to be efficient, transparent, and accessible,” Gaudin said in a statement. 

Inter Partner Assistance Hong Kong said this technolgoy will help its healthcare partners. 

“We are confident that our partnership with The CareVoice will provide new advantages for our healthcare partners and continue to accelerate our healthcare innovations by providing our customers with a transparent, integrated and personalized healthcare experience,” Joseph Lee, CEO of Inter Partner Assistance Hong Kong Ltd, said in a statement.