Now, get medical concierges on call

Where do we find a good doc tor?“ “How much does bariatric surgery cost in two different hospitals?“ “I am beginning to doubt my doctor’s diagnosis, where do I get a second opinion?“ “If I am stuck in a new city or country , where do I go for medical help?“ These are questions that bother most people and they usually go to friends or the internet for answers. There is another option: the medical concierge.

From getting your health records digitized, filed and maintained to recommending physicians and specialists, and guiding you through a crisis in a distant country, medical concierge services could be described as the Cadillacs of medical care. They cost a fair bit, but if expense is not an issue they could take the pain out of healthcare.

When Jagbhushan and Sushma Malhotra from Vasant Vihar, Delhi were injured in an accident in the US earlier this year, they used the services of Texas Medical Concierge (TMC). “The Malhotras had signed up with us a year ago and we had all their medical records and the entire family history digitized. We shared this information with the doctors in the US who were treating them, and also got the family doctor in Delhi to talk to their American counterparts. So our clients, who were already on medication, got the right treatment,“ says Aanchal Bhatia, president and chief clinical psychologist at the company, which functions out of New Delhi and Texas.

From digitizing health records to recommending doctors and arranging aid in a foreign country, these facilitators help you get well soon

So what prompted the Malhotras to sign up for the service? “I am 77, and I feel that every senior citizen needs a medical concierge. There are so many hospitals and experts available but how do you make a decision? Also, if a doctor says we need surgery, we would like a second opinion. A concierge service also handles the paperwork with the insurer.It is less headache for a patient,“ says Jagbhushan Malhotra.

Medical travel services, tele-pathology and remote diagnostic services are some of the advantages of signing up wmedical conciergesith a concierge. “We are always on call, and have a set of in-house doctors, who take video conference calls with international or outstation doctors,“ adds Bhatia.

Given the high cost of registration -$250 (Rs 16,500) onward -most medical concierge services are aimed at High Net-Worth Individuals (HNWIs). `Quintessentially’, a global concierge service, says it is into “luxury lifestyle management“ -a euphemism for getting HNWI clients access to red carpet events or Michelin-star restaurants. Today , it also offers them healthcare options. “In India, around 18-20% of our member-base uses a medical concierge service like TMC to take stock of their health. We use Viavi, the international arm of Quintessen tially’s private health management service for our clients when they’re travelling abroad,“ says Mishti Bose, CEO of the India office.

According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, the healthcare market in the country today is pegged at $100 billion and is expected to grow to $280 billion by 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 22.9%. And the telemedicine sector (consultations over the phone, which is what most medical concierge services provide) is a fast growing one. The telemedicine market in India is valued at $7.5 million currently and is expected to reach $18.7 million by 2017.

Medical concierges are also looking to tap more middle class customers.“For instance, if you want a hip-replacement surgery , we get you cost quotations from five of the city’s best hospitals,“ says Amit Sharma, vice-president, E-Meditek Global. “We have been doing this for our international and Indian corporate clients who want to benefit from medical tourism. Now we provide end-to-end medical information and services for stand-alone Indian clients as well. We keep our patients updated on their consultations, right up to their next dose of medicines.“

The cost of these services varies according to the plan opted for. The minimum cost is for registration which is limited to creation of a health profile.“Our prices so far are listed in dollars, since a lot of clients seek advice from doctors overseas or want to go for an operation abroad. But we get paid in rupees in India,“ says Sharma.

Apart from banks like American Express who tie up with medical con cierges for Indian and international high net worth clients, even Indian life insurance companies, are now signing up to appease their customers. “For a new insurance product launched earlier this year, we tied up with a medical concierge service to help our clients get answers to health queries, get appointments at diagnostic labs and set up telephonic consultations with doctors across India. The costs for these services are part of the client’s insurance cover,“ says Nikhil Apte, chief product officer (health insurance), Royal Sundaram Insurance, Mumbai.

Rekha Bhargava of Credible Medical Concierge Delhi which has been functional since 2010 and caters to clients from Nigeria, Uganda and Congo says that it is necessary for Indians to be more aware of the medical services available.“Indians end up paying a lot more for treatment in India than foreigners,“ she claims. “This is because they are not guided properly.

Source: Times of India 06 Dec’2015