Success Stories

Discovery secures patient data as it takes proactive approach to healthcare outcomes

By adopting CloudHealth by VMware® and VMware Secure State, South African insurance giant is now more efficient and effective in the way it manages its multiple cloud environments – and more secure in the way its handles patients’ medical data.

Discovery Limited is a global insurance and financial services company based in South Africa. In the UK it is perhaps best known for its private medical and life insurance businesses branded as Vitality.

When thinking of the healthcare industry, it is instructive to remind yourself that the typical customer is not sick and lying in a hospital bed. The industry makes good money from the fit and healthy, too. Both the healthy and the sick purchase healthcare goods and services. And it is big business. Deloitte predicts global healthcare spending will reach $10.059 trillion by 2022.

Rather than pitching itself as another insurance provider, competing on the price of its annual premiums, Discovery says its purpose is to ‘make people healthier’. It wants to use a combination of incentives and rewards to help customers make better choices for their health, wellbeing and finances. This could mean hitting 10,000 steps, improving your diet, getting more sleep, checking your cholesterol regularly or planning better for retirement.

The more ‘good’ behaviors a customer demonstrates, the greater the value generated through rewards and the lower their premiums (and the longer and healthier their lives). Deloitte says to expect more businesses like Discovery in the future as the healthcare industry shifts focus from a system of sick care in which we treat patients after they fall ill, to one of healthcare which supports well-being, prevention, and early intervention.

The convergence of two trends

Discovery was founded with the principle of making positive contribution to society, and it has honed its ability to effectively incentivize its members alongside the natural convergence of two trends: the proliferation of tracking solutions that monitor our location, movement and heart rate; and a growing body of research in the field of behavioral economics.

A good many of us are happy to have our data collected by private companies. Discovery acknowledges this and wants to harness this data to make its life, health and motor insurance more compelling. On a global scale it works with a range of partners, depending on the country – from Apple to Ocado to Starbucks and Amazon Prime, to make healthier choices more appealing.

Outwardly, the challenge for Vitality is to find the right caliber of partner, and to create incentives that work. Arguably, the bigger challenge takes place behind the scenes. How can Discovery manage this explosion of data, and how can it keep this data safe?

Managing a complex cloud environment

Discovery has global ambitions. It already operates in 22 countries worldwide and is planning for more. Discovery began its cloud journey in 2012, recognizing the need for scale, flexibility and global reach. Building out on-premise infrastructure in every global location was impractical, slow and unaffordable.

The trouble was, moving at pace, the business was taking on multiple cloud contracts. This made it difficult to ensure consistency, produced a lot of wasted resources, and left security gaps.

“Data is our gold. Everything we do is based on data. We have to keep it safe,” says Discovery Senior Platform Services Manager, Johan Marais.

The remedy is CloudHealth by VMware. Through a single pane of glass, the CloudHealth multi-cloud reporting infrastructure enhances the transparency of Discovery’s cloud usage. It reveals the overall impact on cost, performance and scalability.

In addition, VMware Secure State takes a fundamentally different approach to public cloud security. It improves visibility, the speed and sophistication of vulnerability, updating in near real-time to understand both the direct and correlated risks of change.

CloudHealth analyzes asset performance metrics to help Discovery visualize and correct underutilized resources. The business can then identify opportunities to reduce costs based on reserved instance usage trends. The solution can identify immediate cost saving opportunities and automatically take corrective action.

More efficient, more secure

Discovery is now more efficient and effective in the way it manages its multiple cloud environments.

While Discovery’s investment in cloud has doubled over 2018-19, says Marais, costs are down 40 percent due to more effective management and reduction of waste. Reports on 62 cloud environments in 12 countries are now consolidated into one. These reports are generated on demand, rather than days as previous.

Efficiency is wonderful, but data security and industry compliance are most critical to Discovery. Secure State not only identifies any security potential issues but ranks them in order of risk. For any business, with the pressure to grow quickly, or get new applications to market before the competition, the temptation is to cut corners. CloudHealth and Secure State counter this, says Marais.

“CloudHealth by VMware discovers all different configurations, then VMware Secure State tells us the risk factors in the event of any changes. Because its event-based we’re notified immediately. It’s almost like we’re self-healing our cloud space in real-time.”


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