Telemedicine a Boost for Health InsuranceBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 03/10/2021 - 15:34
Q: What steps have you taken to increase your customer base in Mexico?
A: We have strengthened the customer service area. Customers are at the center of everything we do. At the end of the day, we are an organization whose purpose is to look out for our clients’ health. This work is not only focused on insured customers but on all our business partners.
Bupa was regionally divided and Mexico was quite reliant on Miami when it came to service. However, now everything depends exclusively on Bupa Mexico. Today, Mexico is a totally independent business unit. Mexico is a strategic country for Bupa. To take advantage of the country’s full potential, the most important factor is to be operationally independent.
We have also implemented a number of improvements to all our products and are launching new ones. In the beginning, our product was aimed only at a niche market of people who could choose to be treated medically in Mexico or in the US. The new strategy we have for Mexico is to target the entire population. Most of the Mexican population cannot or do not need to have a product with so much coverage and care outside of Mexico, so we created Bupa Nacional Plus, which is the best product for people who only want to be treated in the country and also Bupa Esencial Libre Elección, that is for people who do not require hospitalization but need consultations in Mexico.
Q: How has the pandemic impacted your coverage plans?
A: The pandemic has not impacted this part of our business. We were very well-prepared to face this crisis and we have provided full coverage. We have continued to provide the best service to our members. When one of our patients needed to be hospitalized, we looked at where there were beds available and where the best location was for them to be treated. If the medical team and Bupa concluded that it was best for the patient not to be treated at a hospital, we arranged for all the equipment and material that the patient needed, such as respirators and oxygen, to be placed in their home.
On top of all that, this year we launched Bupa at Home. One of the main issues of the pandemic is that people neglected many of their illnesses and conditions as they avoided leaving their home or going to a hospital. Bupa at Home brings the services that patients need to their homes. An unlimited service that we have offered free of charge to our clients in teleconsultations and telepsychology consultations.
Q: Will telemedicine impact health insurance prices?
A: These are business models that are here to stay. Telemedicine is a trend we already had in mind before the pandemic hit but the crisis accelerated all our plans. We must be aware, however, that telemedicine is not a substitute for face-to-face healthcare. Each model must be implemented at the right time so the patient receives the best possible care. The fact that medical service is offered through a digital platform will not change the price of insurance plans. I think price will still be dictated by what the patient is willing to cover and how they want to receive the service, whether in person or digitally.
Q: According to AMIS, health insurance has grown 10 percent in Mexico since the outbreak of the pandemic. How has this impacted Bupa’s operations?
A: We have grown by about 5 percent. The core of our business is aimed at a very small niche market. The fact that we are growing in such a closed and demanding niche means that the market is growing a lot. 2020 was a really good year for us. We are the leaders in this market and it is not easy because people are very demanding when they pay for a service like that which we offer.
In the coming years, private medicine and insurance companies are going to play a major role in Mexico. The population has understood that healthcare has to be prioritized. We are aware that not all people have the same economic resources or the same medical needs and that is why we are expanding our services.
Q: What are the key points in achieving customer satisfaction?
A: Regardless of the market, the patient has to feel that their health is being taken care of in the best way possible. Patients want to be treated by the best doctors and in the best and fastest way possible. In December 2020, we acquired Vitamedica, one of the largest medical networks in Mexico with more than 7,500 hospitals and doctors. This platform is an excellent network and a great customer service solution. Through it, we are looking to further improve the operational and administrative side of our business.
Q: What is Bupa's strategy regarding disease prevention?
A: The best tool a person can use to take care of their health is prevention and I am proud to say that it is one of the things we do best. Bupa will now also focus on covering minor medical expenses. In the coming months, we will intensify our prevention strategy and Vitamedica will be an essential part of this. Likewise, we intend to develop internal platforms to enhance all prevention services.
Bupa Global is an insurance company that is part of Bupa, a prominent holding that focuses predominantly on healthcare. Bupa Global has been in Mexico for more than 20 years.