Australian health insurer NIB Holdings Ltd (ASX: NHF) today announced it will team up with the USA’s Cigna Corporation as part of a big data joint venture.

NIB is one of the ASX’s largest private health insurers, it was founded in 1952. It’s also Australia’s third-largest travel insurer and global distributor of travel insurance through its World Nomads Group business.

Cigna Corporation is a US$73 billion health services company based in Connecticut, USA. It offers health, medical, dental and a range of other insurances through 100+ million customer and patient relationships.

In a press release this morning, NIB said both parties will contribute $10 million in start-up funding to launch a joint venture which will use data science technologies to deliver better outcomes for NIB’s customers.

Specifically, the joint venture will use computer algorithms and datasets to identify current and future health risks amongst NIB’s Australian clients in the hope of preventing or mitigating the risks for the company, patient and industry.

“Today’s announcement shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with our business and vision of becoming as much about our member’s good health as it is their financial protection,” NIB CEO Mark Fitzgibbon said.

“And with over 740,000 avoidable hospital admissions1 in Australia every year, representing approximately 7% of all hospitalisations, we think there’s an enormous role for the joint venture to play.”

NIB is currently one of Australia’s largest health insurers alongside Medibank Private Ltd (ASX: MPL). It provides cover for 1.6 million Australian and Kiwi residents together with 190,000 international students.

In recent years, Australian insurers have begun to use innovative technologies, such as wearable smart devices like watches, to encourage their customers to stay active, lower premiums and — ultimately — lower their payouts for medical expenses.