There are several challenges unique to healthcare intermediaries and Covid-19 has added to them. Within adversity there is opportunity, however, and now is the time to embrace technology which will allow your business to thrive in this trying environment.
Triple impact: COVID-19, Year-End Revision for Healthcare Intermediaries and POPI
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on society and a workplace is emerging that is completely different from what we knew before. Social distancing, employees working from home, avoidance of group gatherings and physical contact, require a digital solution meeting the newly defined requirements of the business.
One particular intermediary function which requires attention is the Year End Revision process, which, in its present form, may put you and your employees at physical risk. Your brokerage will have to do a proper needs analysis, give advice which acknowledges the complexity of medical scheme options and send option change forms – all of this working remotely, since it is no longer safe to do in-person consultations with clients.
In addition, the President proclaimed 1 July 2020 to be the effective date of the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013. Intermediaries thus have a grace period of one year to comply with the POPI Act.
The usual suspects: Low commissions, low barriers to entry acquiring and retaining clients
For some time, healthcare intermediaries’ medical scheme commission payments have barely covered expenses, with increasing staff, marketing and client retention costs. To operate cost effectively, intermediaries urgently need technological solutions which allow them to manage their staff, assets and clients more efficiently.
Low barriers to entry: there is an ever increasing number of healthcare intermediaries offering the same products to a finite number of clients. At the same time, medical schemes have become increasingly sophisticated and diverse. Intermediaries require a system which is able to distinguish between the subtleties of different medical scheme offerings, and help intermediaries differentiate from their competitors.
Lastly, despite all these challenges, healthcare intermediaries require novel and consistent methods of acquiring and retaining clients. Most new clients, corporate and individuals, will be generated and retained via online and other technological means, for example, member and employer portals, and online applications.
Adopting technology to drive change
Healthcare Intermediaries have an opportunity to reinvent their companies into online business entities, adopting digital technology in the work-from-home environment.
This innovation has already proved effective in education, where quick implementation was required to continue the academic school year.