Q&A with Dr. Oren Fuerst, Onlife co-founder
What does Onlife do?
Fuerst: We combine in a unique way Online Term life insurance underwriting and policy issuance along with ongoing digital healthy lifestyle and behavior economics tools. That enables long term and deeper interaction with the clients, reducing risk asymmetry and hence pricing, while improving profitability.
What population are you approaching?
Fuerst: We are focused on people that either have or are at high risk of developing chronic illnesses, and in particular those with metabolic syndrome (including pre diabetes, diabetes and others).
How can you know if the insured is getting better at his illness?
Fuerst: We offer a wealth of digital tools that both track the physical status of the client, and encourage him/her in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
How do you motivate him to keep a healthy lifestyle?
Fuerst: Based on decades of research in both behavioral economics and stress management, we are devising personalized approaches that target both physiological and psychological traits of human nature.
You recently developed a personal interest in methods to reduce stress. Can you Tell me about it?
Fuerst: Stress is considered by many (including myself) to be a silent killer. In fact, it is no longer that silent.
Not only that it has a profound impact on general health, it is leading to a tremendous loss of productivity. I have been fascinated by the mind-body linkages for decades, and have been practicing breathing and meditation for years. Over the years I have extensively researched this area and its impact on health and even led multiple efforts on that domain.
Over the years, I realized most people (and at times, even myself) cannot really afford the time and/or have the inclination or attention to spend the required time to fully leverage the potential impact of these powerful tools.
As a result, I have devised patented tools to enable people to benefit from the essence of the breathing exercises in a very time efficient way (5 minutes a day). This is essentially conducted by personalization and digitization of the process.
We are using algorithms that we developed that are based around measurement (by using the finger placed on the phone’s camera) of a variety of biometric signals, and utilizing them in the creation of easy, short and dynamic breathing practices that can profoundly reduce stress and enhance focus.
Clinical studies by us and others showed these can reduce blood sugar and weight, both by their direct impact, but also via their impact on sleep and eating habits. Personally, I am a proponent of the synergistic effect of low carb Mediterranean diet combined with these tools but once you deal with the stress, other nutrition approaches are also becoming more effective.
It is no longer voodoo science – Stress management is really the game changer that facilitates higher adherence to healthy lifestyle regimen. We augment this by behavioral economics tools and these together create an extremely powerful combination that leads to high adherence level.
What equipment do you require the customer to use?
Fuerst: Your smartphone is the only thing you need. If you are a chronic patient, the program obviously benefits from connected scales, glucometers and blood pressure monitors.
What is on life business model?
Fuerst: In conjunction with local carriers, we are launching local MGAs with our unique programs.
When do you plan to officially launch your activity?
Fuerst: This year.
What investments were made in the company?
Fuerst: The company benefits from vast investments in the technologies we utilize, that were developed by our portfolio companies.
Tell me about yourself and about other key figures in the company.
Fuerst: I am a serial entrepreneur in the digital health and fintech space. I was a faculty member at the Yale University International Center of Finance and led the Technology Strategy and Valuation program at Columbia Business School, and at around that time started the nurturing of companies based on core ideas of mine and others, which I have been doing for the past two decades.
My partner Dr. Moty Bachar is a practicing physician, medical underwriter and a businessman that is active in the medical and insurance field for many years, including co-founding an insurance company. We have met a few years back in the context of a mutual investment in the fintech area and have started to partner on a few avenues.