Q&A with Emma Knox, CEO: Vitality Health Insurance
Why is Vitality Health International (VHI) embarking on an Africa strategy?
Before I answer the ‘why’ I would like to take the opportunity to share a little more with you on the ‘what’.
Vitality Health International was established last year and is the most recent expansion for the Vitality group, which brings both the Vitality Health International product as well as the unique Vitality wellness program to the rest of Africa. We have launched VHI to enable us to bring this novel private health International solution and wellness program to meet the unique needs of our home continent’s people.
Vitality has more than 20 years’ experience, in 38 countries worldwide with over 27 million members – we believe that the time is right to expand our innovative, globally recognized, shared-value health International offering to key markets across our home continent.
Is your own background and experience conducive to leading an Africa strategy for VHI?
I am very excited to be part of the team bringing Vitality to the rest of Africa. My background is in healthcare, I spent 18 years at GlaxoSmithKline where the focus of my last ten years was focused on bringing much needed medicines and vaccines to sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition to this I have spent some time working with NGO’s focused on the African continent, with both Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) as well as sitting on the Board of Save the Children SA. I am passionate about increasing access to healthcare and look forward to bringing this experience to VHI. I am also surrounded by a team of exceptionally talented and experienced individuals in the VHI team, including my actuarial and medical teams who ensure we build the right product for each country and are able to offer real value to our customers.
You say you are working with local in-country partners to deliver your Africa strategy – how have you gone about selecting those partners?
Partnership is crucial to the VHI model. Every country is unique, and we need to work with leading local International businesses to fully understand this and ensure we bring a product of real value. Our partners enable us to do this. In each market we have conducted a detailed in-country review and have a selection process to find a partner who has the right combination of in-market knowledge as well as one which meets our legal and regulatory requirements and has aligned values. I believe that in any partnership the most important ingredient is aligned values, these form the basis of any strong, long-term partnership.
Which countries is VHI currently available in?
We have launched in four countries so far, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and the DRC. This is part of a plan to grow our footprint to more than ten countries in the next 12 months.
Ensuring that we provide long-term benefits to our clients in all markets means that we need to get the basics right – it is for this reason that we are taking a considered approach to meet all relevant in-country regulatory requirements. In addition, we have focused on the countries where we believe we can make the most impact, this is dependent on the healthcare model of the country as well as the ability for us to bring our shared-value model. At the heart of our shared value ecosystem is our commitment to create healthier people, and build a stronger healthcare system, across our home continent.
Shared-value is what underpins the Vitality offering and it is what makes our offering so different. The knowledge that looking after your health by doing the correct medical checks for your age, eating healthily and exercising improves our life expectancy and reduces illness is not new. However, we know at Vitality that often this knowledge is not enough to change human behaviour, and that having increased access to clear, relevant information and regular rewards for achieving your goals helps people make long lasting changes that impact their health.
How have you gone about deciding which VHI products are appropriate for Africa?
Vitality Health International is currently only focused on one core product – this is Health International for corporates where we offer Health International with our Vitality wellness program embedded. We believe this is the product that can make the biggest impact most rapidly.
Through the roll out of Vitality we offer employers the ability for employees to link an approved wearable fitness device to the Vitality platform, to track their physical activity. Employees on Vitality will also be able to complete online health assessments to understand their health risks and receive weekly goals to increase their physical activity levels and earn rewards with Vitality Active Rewards. In three easy steps, Vitality members can:
· Track physical activity through linked wearable fitness devices.
· Achieve weekly, personalised activity goals through the Vitality platform, and
· Earn rewards for achieving their physical activity goals.
In addition to the Health International product we have also launched another product, Travel for Treatment (T4T). Vitality Health International has partnered with Medical Services Organization International (MSOI) to enable us to do this. T4T is an end-to-end clinical concierge service for people living on the African continent who need to access healthcare in top medical destinations, including South Africa, the United Kingdom and France.
Medical tourism is a large and growing opportunity in Africa. The demand for T4T continues to grow rapidly year by year. Unfortunately, the vast majority of patients have to navigate this complex and often intimidating journey alone. An estimated two million patients, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) travelled to South Africa between 2003 and 2008, at an average of 400,000 people per annum.
WithT4T, patients get access to a range of healthcare services, at standard medical fees, from contracted healthcare facilities and providers, including dedicated case management support and cover for complications. All non-healthcare arrangements are also catered for according to the needs of the patient, including flights, transfers and accommodation. We take care of all the complex details so that patients can focus on their treatment and healing.
What is your long term vision in terms of your Africa strategy?
The Vitality Health International team are bringing the benefit of our unique wellness programme and International to the rest of Africa along with our unique T4T offering. With these offerings we are committed to bringing our shared value model to the rest of Africa through which we aim to make people, companies, and societies healthier.
Interviewed by Bronwyn Nielson, CEO, The Nielsen Network
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