Author: Richard di Benedetto, President and CEO, Aetna International
12 Feb 2018
Demand for healthcare is increasing worldwide. Populations are growing, becoming wealthier and getting older. Technology continues to develop and costs are on the rise. Patients are becoming consumers; everybody has Googled their condition and wants the best treatment. These factors, combined with larger, globally mobile populations, have driven up the demand for international private medical insurance (IPMI).
Customers – or members, as the industry refers to them – are demanding access to the highest-quality healthcare at the best value, no matter where they are or what time of day. To keep pace, insurers have built global medical networks, experienced care management teams and strategic partnerships to deliver specialist services. Products offering rich benefits and high levels of service combine to deliver a holistic programme of health insurance protection.
But the industry is about more than just insurance or simply paying a claim when a member gets sick and needs treatment. It’s also about supporting members to keep them healthy, providing the tools and the personal level of service required to help them take more control of their own health outcomes.
Joining the dots
Aetna International’s ability to combine an established infrastructure with technology has created a different approach to health insurance: Connected Care. Connected Care takes traditional health insurance to the next level, putting the member at the centre of the care cycle like never before. The aim is to link all of a member’s touch points with Aetna International’s service teams and healthcare providers, and provide their medical information to whichever medical practitioner is providing treatment, no matter where the practitioner is in the world.
VHealth has the potential to change the way healthcare is accessed and delivered around the world
Joining the dots in this way is incredibly helpful for our members, but it’s not just about convenience: going through the digital and telephonic routes helps match members quickly and precisely to the face-to-face support they need.
This is all achieved through the same connected channel, and without the need for lengthy pre-authorisation processes. With access to hundreds and thousands of medical facilities globally, the patient will be quickly directed – or medically evacuated in a clinical emergency – to whichever care facility is most appropriate for their particular condition.
At the heart of Aetna International’s Connected Care programme is virtual health, which we are delivering in the form of vHealth. VHealth is often the start of the process, one that delivers a very different healthcare experience for people. Virtual consultations are delivered through computer screens, laptops or smartphones from anywhere in the world, and at any time. Patients can have extended time with doctors, allowing concerns to be properly aired and discussed.
Doctors can prescribe medicines, refer patients to specialists and advise on their medical concerns. Medical records are also held centrally, enabling doctors to give informed and consistent medical advice. All of these tools can help with prevention and early intervention, reducing the need for acute care and reducing patient costs.
VHealth was launched in India earlier this year, and is set to be rolled out across all of Aetna International’s key global regions in the near future. This is an exciting development, because vHealth has the potential to change the way healthcare is accessed and delivered around the world. It is already making a tremendous difference: more than 170,000 members across 132 countries have engaged with the service. As a result, onward care has been reduced by 60 percent, equating to approximately 1,600 fewer healthcare visits in the first half of 2017 than in the first half of 2016.
The health of our members is our primary concern, so promoting health education and prevention is also critical. If we can stop patients becoming ill in the first place, then we can reduce the need for medical intervention. This is why wellness continues to be a key focus within the industry. As part of this, Aetna International’s strategy is to build relationships with members early, helping them to make positive lifestyle choices that improve or maintain their levels of health and, in turn, avoid the onset of disease.
If we can stop patients becoming ill in the first place, then we can reduce the need for medical intervention
For Aetna International, a large part of wellness is about empowering members to live healthier lives. It’s this philosophy that drives everything we do, putting our members at the heart of the organisation. At the end of last year, Aetna International undertook an extensive research programme that included more than 5,000 expatriates and local nationals around the world. The findings made it clear that, globally, individuals are interested in managing and improving their own health.
Providing the tools and information that encourage members to engage in their physical and mental wellbeing can be hugely beneficial. Add in solutions such as health assessments and biometric screenings, which allow insurers to identify and proactively manage medical problems early in the development cycle, and the notion of wellness becomes even more powerful.
For the increasing number of globally mobile individuals, access to a fully supportive healthcare solution is paramount. Medical networks are extensive and contain many of the best facilities in the world. Products are rich with benefits, while innovations in add-on cover are helping to fill the gaps in protection.
With wellness a central component of many insurers’ member healthcare strategies, technology is increasingly being harnessed to provide convenience and early access to care. As an industry, we are stepping up to provide a truly global healthcare solution for a truly global world.