Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine, sat down with Mike Webb, CEO, Healix International at the beginning of March to discuss in detail Healix International’s core services, client profiles, and the international medical assistance trends shaping the future of the business.
Q. Please introduce yourself and your background in the international medical and risk markets
Mike Webb: I’ve spent the last 25 years working within the general insurance risk marketplace, with a focus on international risk management and insurance and assistance services. I’ve been the CEO of Healix International for the last three years but I have known the business for much longer, as they were a key partner in my previous roles as CEO of Allianz Partners UK and before that CEO of Mondial Assistance.
Q. Talking about Healix International, what are your core services?
Mike Webb: There are many excellent providers in the market, but what makes Healix International different from the rest is our medical heritage and the fact that we offer a truly integrated medical and security solution for businesses.
The business was originally founded by two doctors and I believe that the quality and integrity of the medical expertise that exists at Healix is probably the best in the industry. Providing medical services for international travellers has always been at the core of our business.
We have excellent systems and strong relationships with hospitals around the world because of the type of business we manage on behalf of our clients, but it’s the depth of medical expertise within our own business that underpins the service we deliver. We provide the highest level of care and attention to ensure that the most appropriate medical treatment is given, as well as providing help and support to the patient and their families rather than just acting as a third party administrator.
Of course, cost containment is always a vital part of our role and we always mitigate costs and maximise best value wherever possible, but never at the expense of the patient’s treatment. Key to achieving that is to keep the patient and their care separate from the negotiations and cost containment that needs to happen with the hospitals.
Q. And what is the profile for clients you work with?
Mike Webb: Because of the quality of our medical and security services, we have tended to steer more towards the premium end of the market and to concentrate on the corporate and government sectors. We continue to win new business in these markets because we understand the challenges faced by businesses sending employees overseas and our role is to help to facilitate their travel needs, despite the medical and security challenges that they may face in some parts of the world. We have also developed excellent relationships with key insurers and continue to work closely with them, to ensure that we provide a consistently high service to our mutual clients.
Q. Do you think your focus on medical expertise is what makes you different from your competitors?
Mike Webb: I think a lot of our competitors are focused on the claims process, and they may be able to provide similar savings to ourselves but when you have a complex medical problem, or a medical case outside of normal tourist destinations overseas the situation becomes much more challenging, so having our high level of medical experience and skills within our business to fully understand the medical issues and navigate the local services available is a key differentiator.
Our longevity in this market is another principle difference. We’ve been operating now for 27 years, and during that time we have been able to hone our approach to deliver the absolute best level of care and attention for the patient and their family, as well as tangible and effective cost containment.
Q. Do you think the market places a value on the services you deliver?
Mike Webb: Unfortunately, we work in a commoditised market. So what we tend to find is that our customers really like the service - their feedback is excellent and the CSAT scores we achieve for our clients are high. However, purchasing departments are focused on cost and the reality is that we’re always going to be a premium priced provider due to the fact that we employ a high number of highly experienced doctors, nurses and general medical staff.
We believe that by using the best medical staff to manage cases rather than just claims handlers, we are able to deliver higher overall savings through better case management and a better experience for the patient. So we believe that we represent better value for money than many of our competitors.
Q. Where do you think the future trends are for your sector?
Mike Webb: Everyone is talking about AI as the holy grail for case management although we don’t think it’s going to make any significant difference in the near future due to the variability of medical treatment in some parts of the world. Therefore we anticipate that we will continue to require experienced UK based doctors who can talk to the treating clinicians to really understand the situation and determine the best course of action. However, that doesn’t mean that as a sector we shouldn’t be investing in technology to simplify and automate some of the back office processes and this is an area where Healix is making significant investment. Our goal is to try to automate wherever possible to improve the customer journey and reduce costs, to add value to the patient and their family and ensure the best quality of care. We have recently made a substantial investment in our new security App, which will help to facilitate and support travellers by providing them with better information to protect them whilst travelling, as well as giving them instant access to help for any security or medical issue. We anticipate that we will see an increased focus from employers on both the security and medical duty of care issues for their employees and Healix are ideally placed to help in providing a fully integrated service.
Q. So, would you say that in the last say 5 years you’ve upped the level of the experts providing that human touch? And where exactly are you putting the investment into in terms of technology?
Mike Webb: As far as the human touch is concerned, we’re continuing to maintain the same level of medical expertise and that’s not something we’re ever going to compromise on. In terms of technology, our current investments are focused on the digitalisation of claims and reporting. Our new App will allow customers much greater access to information to help them with their travel needs, as well as giving them easy access to help and support when needed, as well as allowing us to track them if required and provide active monitoring in the event of any security issues, as well as directional care for any medical cases.
Q. What do you think the future is for Healix International?
Mike Webb: We believe that we have considerable scope for further expansion of our security and medical services within the Corporate and IPMI marketplace where there is a real understanding of employee value and the importance of taking care of workers wherever they are in the world.
We would also like to continue to provide premium travel insurance assistance services, because I’m convinced there is still a market out there for people who don’t just want to buy the cheapest product only to find when they make a claim that many things aren’t covered. And with the growth of the older demographic there will be more people who are prepared to pay a higher premium for a product which gives them the level and quality of cover they need.
Q. Last, but not least, if you could live anywhere in the world, on land or sea, where would it be?
Mike Webb: First of all, I love living in the UK, because as a country we have always been very international in our outlook and I believe we have great potential, thanks to the talent we already have within the country and that which we will, hopefully, continue to attract in the future.
I lived in Africa many years ago, which was a brilliant experience, but I would like to explore South America. I have been to Argentina a couple of times - I thought it was a great country, with wonderful people living within a challenging difficult political environment, so I would love to spend more time there and use it as a base to travel around the continent and try to learn more about the other countries and their peoples.