Realistic Financial Solutions for Out-Of-Pocket PatientsBy Miriam Bello | Tue, 08/31/2021 - 09:28
Q: How are your hospitals and clinics addressing financial hardship among patients who need care?
A: Grupo Torre Médica has a low-cost care model that allows us to reduce costs without compromising quality. We spend our money on good equipment and medical professionals instead of luxury rooms, reducing the deductible cost for people with a major medical expense policy.
As part of our model, we divide our patients into four groups for which we have developed alliances to cater to their needs. The first group of patients we usually receive is affiliated to a social security institute but wants a better, faster option. Births are a common driver for this group. The second group is made up of patients who do not have public or private insurance and rely on INSABI to pay for part or the entire hospital bill. The third group includes patients who have social security but do not use it, while the fourth group comprises those with a major medical expense insurance policy but a limited budget to pay for deductibles or co-pays.
For instance, we have an alliance with a large national pawnshop because we realized that about 45 percent of pawnshop loans are used to pay for healthcare, including hospitalizations, treatments or medical devices. Patients often rely on pawnshops to pay for emergencies, such as an accident or sudden illnesses like appendicitis. Through our alliance, the hospital can direct patients to the pawnshop and it will directly transfer the money from their goods to the hospital bill. We also have an alliance with a credit company that provides patients the opportunity to pay their bill in 24-48 instalments, which is used mainly to finance programmed surgeries for functional procedures.
Q: What was Grupo Torre Médica’s role in the public-private hospital agreement during COVID-19?
A: This unprecedented public-private cooperation agreement was led by CMH and the AMHP. It allowed private hospitals to relieve the strain placed on public health institutions from their non-COVID-19 patients so the government could focus on attending to COVID-19 patients. Under this model, private hospitals receive a modest payment from the government for providing care, which generally comprised births, hernias, appendicitis and general surgeries. As the pandemic advanced, we would also receive COVID-19 patients that the public institutions could not take. Grupo Torre Médica has two hospitals. Half of each was converted to treat COVID-19 patients and all of them received the same attention, whether they were financed by the public sector or by their own means.
This agreement will be the base for the future of public-private collaboration. Both sectors recognize that we have to expand access to healthcare. Private hospitals are never 100 percent full, while public institutions have limited capacity due to the large number of patients they receive. Working together, both sectors can expand access and promote transparency.
Q: During the COVID-19 pandemic, how did you balance accessible prices with the increasingly high cost of hospital supplies?
A: There were significant price increases on specific supplies, such as personal protection equipment, oxygen tanks, anesthetics and antibiotics. At first, CMH hospital members would team up to place large orders and pay bulk prices but as the pandemic escalated, it was inevitable that prices would continue to increase. Escalating prices eventually affected a patient’s final bill but we tried keep the impact to a minimum.
Q: Interconnectivity inside hospitals has become increasingly important. How is Grupo Torre Médica adopting tech trends to improve performance?
A: No modern hospital can work without digitalization. All of Grupo Torre Médica’s hospitals and clinics work under the same IT system, which connects all management areas of the facility, from warehouses to marketing. This allows us to have a clear view of our operations and to detect areas of opportunity. Additionally, we use data analysis of patient and financial data to improve our clinical and managerial performance. We have been digitalizing our facilities for eight years now.
To improve patient care, we have digitalized our services to make the interaction simpler. For instance, patients can now send us their doubts and test results through digital platforms, which we use to provide information to families of hospitalized patients. We do not use telemedicine because our patients are usually at advanced stages of care, which require in-person attention.
Q: What are your growth goals for Grupo Torre Médica?
A: Our next step is to continue expanding in Mexico City. We plan to open another two clinics and a third hospital. Additionally, we will continue introducing new medical equipment.
Grupo Torre Médica is a group of hospitals and comprehensive care clinics with over 100 years of experience caring for more than 100,000 patients annually