Health data as an enabler of digital transformation: A single holistic case study of connected insurance

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

This defence will be virtual. You can join through this link:

Topic of the dissertation

Health data as an enabler of digital transformation: A single holistic case study of connected insurance

Doctoral candidate

Masters of Science Casandra Grundstrom

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Empirical Software Engineering in Software, Systems and Services (M3S)

Subject of study

Information Processing Science


Doctor Maaria Nuutinen, VTT

Second opponent

Assistant professor Till Winkler, Copenhagen Business School


Professor Minna Isomursu, University of Oulu

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Understanding the fair and sustainable use of health data to support changes in health-related digital insurance services

There are many changes taking place in our society due to the use of technology which is referred to as digital transformation. By tracking health personally when using wearables and wellness applications, or professionally such as when a healthcare professional records patient information, we are contributing to the mass creation and collection of health data. Health data is valuable for persons, societies, and industries as part of the digital economy because it tells a sensitive story about an individual's health, preferences, patterns, and history.

The insurance industry is interested in using health data to provide better digital health services to their customers. These digital health services better understand the health of a customer and can, therefore, provide preventative interventions to encourage customers with their health and wellness. This vision of "connected insurance" challenges how insurance organizations are currently conducting their business, as traditionally they are very reactive. For instance, when an accident occurs a customer makes a claim after the incident. In the digital transformation of insurance, assistance would be available to more readily act before the onset of disease or illness. However, insurance organizations are facing organizational, legislative, and societal challenges around four key factors of health data: access, control, sharing, and use. These factors are necessary as part of connected insurance to support the digital transformation of insurance.

In this doctoral dissertation, how insurance organizations can embrace the connected insurance vision by adopting the four health data factors is investigated. Unravelling the details of what mechanisms support the four health data factors provides strategies for the design and development of preventative digital health services. To answer this, a single case study was conducted over the course of three years at a large Finnish insurance organization. Evidence was collected through interviews, observations, and a survey to paint a picture of the health data environment, policies such as the GDPR, the insurance organization itself, and its customers. The findings are presented as a story of the digital transformation of the case organization, and a framework of health data mechanisms. These results provide strategies for policymakers, insurance organizations, and management to promote a culture of health data, behave in a more transparent way for customers, and plan for interoperable capabilities across the public and private sector. Of interest to the general public is the presentation of how the human-centric factors of access, control, sharing, and use of health data empower individuals with rights for decision-making part of the digital economy.
Last updated: 1.3.2023