You are here

Data Science: Q&A with IFoA Member Lisa Balboa

Lisa Balboa chairs the Regulation & Ethics work stream of the IFoA’s Data Science MIG, and is an active contributor to the IFoA’s Health and Care Practice area. Opinions expressed here are her own.

 

Lisa BalboaTo what extent do actuaries already use data science tools in the healthcare sector? And from your perspective, what are the benefits of establishing transferable skills between data science and actuarial science?

In healthcare, one of the most impressive uses of data science I’ve come across is hospitals using analytics to forecast the number of patients likely to arrive at their doors in the coming week. Hospital managers use these predictions to adjust staffing and other resources to ensure anticipated patient demand is met. This forecasting is particularly useful in times of peak demand, such as ensuring hospitals have the capacity to cope in a severe winter flu outbreak.

But these models are only being used in a few isolated hospitals. As actuaries, we’re in a good position to draw on our understanding of these data science techniques to help scale-up and encourage more widespread adoption of predictive healthcare tools. We can also use our strong skills of communicating technical information to non-technical stakeholders. This supports healthcare decision-makers to understand, and react appropriately, to these dynamic healthcare forecasts.

What kind of framework must be in place for data to be readily exchangeable across health system stakeholders? And what potential exists to scale-up opportunities in using this data for predictive healthcare demand modelling?

Having common data storage and programming languages is vital if we’re to succeed in embedding predictive healthcare demand modelling right across the health system. Initiatives, such as the FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standard, are a great first step in moving towards a system where data can be exchanged across the health service. It’s important to have robust data privacy and data governance frameworks that empower individuals to engage with their health and lifestyle data.

I envisage a personal health record system that places individuals at the centre of their data. The personal health record would allow each person to take ownership of their data and decide whether and when to share this data with their medical team. Individuals could also give consent for the de-identification of their data to be fed into medical research and healthcare resource management activities.

As adoption of AI-based data science tools in healthcare increases, how important is it to ensure that algorithms can be embedded into society in a fair, ethical way, to identify and mitigate possible algorithmic biases? And what can actuaries contribute to public debate around this topic?

The adoption of AI-based data science tools is on the rise throughout pretty much all aspects of our daily lives. With algorithmic decision-making becoming so pervasive, it’s important to ensure we embed this technology into society in a fair and ethical way. Actuaries have much to offer in this area. From a technical standpoint, we can help to identify and mitigate biases that are present in training datasets being used by the models. We also have a lot to contribute when it comes to developing these algorithms. Many such algorithms are designed to maximise resource efficiency. But we should be going further to consider fairness as part of the resource allocation process.

In a field with such a rapid pace of development, ethical adoption of new data science techniques is critical. Particularly as regulation can often take time to catch-up to technological change. As actuaries, we’re well-situated to engage directly with the public and other stakeholders, to help them to understand how their data is being used by these algorithms. We can help to ensure that algorithmic decision-making is transparent and explainable. This will give the public greater opportunity to voice their opinions on what they believe is a fair and ethical way for this pervasive technology to be embedded into our lives. 

What career opportunities for actuaries to work alongside data science specialists in the healthcare sector do you see – now and going forward?

The knowledge and expertise that data science experts bring when analysing large volumes of specialised medical data helps to drive developments in healthcare analytics. As actuaries, we are likely to remain highly reliant on data science experts for these deep insights into specialised datasets. Also as actuaries, we are well-placed to work closely with data science specialists by combining these healthcare analytics insights with our strong understanding of business, finance and risk management.

This could lead to growing career opportunities for actuaries to work alongside data science experts to build models that optimise financial and medical resources. I’d like to see actuaries and data science specialists collaborating with a wide range of other stakeholders such as healthcare professionals and medical researchers to help develop more effective, personalised treatment pathways and thereby improve health outcomes for society.

With specific reference to insurance, how do you believe data science techniques will prove of the greatest value to actuaries working in this field of expertise?

We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface in terms of thinking about how to embed the wide array of emerging data science techniques into our actuarial work. There’s tremendous potential to drive value creation by applying these tools to improve our understanding of how risks interact and to optimise insurance portfolios. It’s interesting to consider this question in the context of broader technological change. We’re increasingly seeing consumers adopting wearable tech, mobile apps and other connected devices into their daily lives. This technology is helping people to engage with their health more often and in new ways. With strong data privacy and data governance frameworks in place, there may be the opportunity for actuaries to use data science techniques to gain a better understanding of customers’ key insurance needs.

Using this deeper understanding of the customer, actuaries could champion the development of new insurance products that are more dynamic in their response to individuals’ health and lifestyle needs. With a growing availability of data and with technological developments continuing to raise customer expectations, actuaries will increasingly adopt more advanced data science techniques. I’d like to see us collaborating with a wide range of experts to embed data science into the insurance industry in a way that enhances business value and drives improvements for customers and society.

Filter or search events

Start date
E.g., 23/01/2020
End date
E.g., 23/01/2020

Events calendar

  • KSS event in Glasgow: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson, Glasgow 20 Waterloo St, Glasgow
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Stirling: Public Sector Pensions

    M&G Prudential, Stirling Craigforth Campus, Stirling
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Edinburgh: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson 1, Exchange Place, Semple St, Edinburgh
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • The Great Risk Transfer – Breakfast briefing and launch event

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    31 January 2020

    Fully booked.

     

    Launch of the IFoA’s 2020 thought leadership campaign The Great Risk Transfer. The campaign will examine the trend of the transfer of risk from institutions to individuals, and how people can be better equipped to manage the financial risks they now face. At this breakfast event the IFoA will launch a call for evidence on this topic.

  • Joint IFoA and SOAT Professional Skills Training event - Bangkok

    Thai Life Insurance PCL, 13th Floor, Meeting Room 13/2, 123 Ratchadaphisek Road, Din Daeng, Bangkok 10400, Thailand  
    7 February 2020

    Spaces available

    This session is jointly organised by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and the Society of Actuaries of Thailand (SOAT).

    Video case studies will be selected from the IFoA’s 2019/2020 online content which covers a range of topics under an overarching theme of “A Trusted Profession”. This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Life, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

     

  • Cyber Risk Event

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    10 February 2020

    Spaces available

    What do good cyber practices look like and, to what extent, can we as an industry implement these operationally and recognise these for underwriting?

  • KSS event: Where now for pensions?

    Royal London Group, 1 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1DG
    18 February 2020

    Spaces available

    With a single party government at Westminster holding a comfortable majority, and with the first phase of Brexit complete, the potential for radical reforms of the pensions landscape is increased. 

    Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb discusses what changes we can expect to see in pensions including in state pensions, pension tax relief, automatic enrolment and the workplace pension landscape.

  • Sessional: Impact of E-cigarettes Working Party

    Royal College of Physicians, 9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    24 February 2020

    Spaces available

    This sessional meeting will be of direct interest to actuaries and others working in the in the Health and Care, Life or Pensions sectors or indeed actuaries with an interest in morbidity or mortality. Note: Registration is from 17.30 in time for the sessional to begin at 18.00.

  • Spaces available

    Investors globally are embracing ESG but what does this involve and can ESG be measured? Louise Dudley, Global Equity Portfolio Manager at Hermes Investment Management will outline the taxonomy often used when talking about ESG (exclusion, screening, engagement, sustainable, impact, responsible investing), talk about the importance of stewardship and engagement, and showcase evidence to the question as to whether ESG adds va

  • KSS event: How is Scotland’s population changing and what are the implications?

    New Register House, 3 West Register Street, Edinburgh
    5 March 2020

    Spaces available

    The National Records of Scotland (NRS) collects, preserves and produces information about Scotland's people and history to inform current and future generations - work that underpins the fabric of Scottish society and tells the story of our nation. This KSS talk will explore the following and other areas impacting Scotland’s changing population, and assess the potential implications of the changes:

  • Highlights of the Life Conference 2019 - London

    America Square Conference Centre, 17, One Crosswall, America Square, London EC3N 2LB  
    11 March 2020

    Spaces available

    This event will cover the highlights from last year's Life Conference 2019 held in Dublin. The Conference Committee has reviewed session feedback and has put together a high-quality technical programme featuring the best-reviewed sessions from the conference. Book now to ensure your place.

  • Board agenda: Why Responsible Investing, ESG, and Climate Change matters to Pension Funds, Companies

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London. WC1V 6DR, UK
    19 March 2020

    Spaces available

    Recent years have seen ESG, Climate Change, and Responsible Investing thrust onto the corporate agenda in every boardroom. The same also be said for pension funds. Expectations of how companies should respond are high and NEDs on Boards are expected to adapt and adjust their guidance to companies accordingly. What does this mean for Actuaries serving as NEDs and Trustees?

  • KSS event: A Cashless Society- Benefits, Risks, Issues and Developments

    Deloitte, 4th Floor, Saltire Court, 20 Castle Terrace
    19 March 2020

    Spaces available

    Speaker: Iain Collier, Chair of the CSWP

    The talk will look to cover the following: Progression towards a Cashless Society • Developments home and overseas • Benefits, Risks and Issues • Crypto Currencies and Central Bank Digital Currencies.

    There will be an extended Q&A session at the end of the event.

  • Spring Lecture 2020, Edinburgh - Vicky Pryce

    Assembly Rooms, 54 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2LR
    25 March 2020

    Spaces available

    What next in Economic Policy? Please join us for our annual Spring Lecture presented by Vicky Pryce in Edinburgh. Vicky is Chief Economic Adviser and a board member at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

  • Spring Lecture 2020: Live Streaming at Staple Inn - Vicky Pryce

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1 V 7QJ
    25 March 2020

    Spaces available

    This event will be live streamed from Edinburgh. 

    What next in Economic Policy? Please join us for our annual Spring Lecture presented by Vicky Pryce in Edinburgh. Vicky is Chief Economic Adviser and a board member at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

  • Spring Lecture 2020: Live Streaming

    Webinar
    25 March 2020

    Spaces available

    What next in Economic Policy? Please join us on 25 March 2020 for the live stream of our annual Spring Lecture presented by Vicky Pryce in Edinburgh. Vicky is Chief Economic Adviser and a board member at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

  • SIAS Event: CMI Update

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    1 April 2020

    Spaces available

    Following the release of the updated CMI Mortality Projection Model, CMI_2019, the CMI Mortality Projections Committee will lead a discussion on future mortality improvements.

  • Finance and Investment Conference 2020

    Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Pl, London NW1 4LE
    05-05 May 2020
    Spaces available

    Join us at this year’s Finance and Investment Conference in London that will focus on ESG. The environmental, social and governance (ESG) space is growing rapidly and increasingly moving centre stage. In many cases, it is now an essential part of policy and central to the way stakeholders make decisions for the long term to ensure retention of clients, manage risk better, and ensure more economically efficient and sustainable investment returns.

    ESG factors cover a wide range of areas reflecting how vital consideration of these factors are part of wider systemic risks.

  • IFoA Asia Conference 2020, Kuala Lumpur

    CCEC Nexus, 7, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    24-25 June 2020
    Spaces available

    Join us at the IFoA Asia Conference 2020 at CCEC Nexus, Kuala Lumpur where intellectual thought leaders, senior industry players, opinion formers, academics, actuaries and non-actuaries from across Asia and beyond are expected to attend. This year's landmark conference promises to an exciting one as our first Asian President-elect, Tan Suee Chieh will, as newly appointed president of the IFoA, use his presidential address to highlight the two key pillars of the IFoA’s emerging strategy:

    • the reinvention of the profession in terms of its skillsets and mind-sets so that we can thrive in an increasing range of domains in a digital age;
    • the widening application of actuarial science in achieving social impact and sustainability goals.

    We are also delighted to announce that the Honourable Mr. Lim Guan Eng, Minister of Finance, Malaysia, will be the guest of honour at this year's conference.

    Early bird registration is now open until 1 March.  10% group discounts are offered to a minimum of six IFoA members booking in a single transaction.  Limited spaces are available, so please sign-up early to avoid disappointment.