How Reliance HMO is using Innovation to Build a Healthier Future

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Jude, a rising entrepreneur in Lagos, helmed a thriving tech startup with ambitious plans to disrupt the market. But keeping up with his team’s health needs wasn’t initially very innovative. Without an employee health plan, productivity was regularly impacted by absenteeism– made even worse by long hospital wait times. Team members’ health challenges were also a financial concern: without a fixed investment in health coverage, ad-hoc requests for financial support were unpredictable and a source of stress for Jude and his team alike.  Jude admits this ad-hoc approach was unsustainable, draining resources and hindering his ability to invest in employee development, and ultimately scale up.

Jude’s predicament reflects a common challenge for countless businesses in Nigeria. The lack of accessible and affordable healthcare options forces entrepreneurs to choose between their employees’ well-being and their growth ambitions. This raises a crucial question: can ambition and accessible healthcare coexist in Nigeria’s current landscape?

Jude’s predicament isn’t unique. Across the corporate landscape in Nigeria, businesses, big and small, struggle with the delicate dance of balancing growth with the escalating costs of sustainable healthcare for employee well-being. Limited health insurance coverage across the country poses a significant challenge, impeding access to quality healthcare for millions of individuals.

The World Economic Forum’s latest prediction that medical inflation will outstrip GDP growth in many countries seems to be taking a heavier toll on the entire continent as Africa records higher rates of medical inflation compared to the global average. But what does this mean for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation?

Beyond the Headlines: The State of Healthcare Insurance in Nigeria

In Nigeria, achieving sustainable healthcare remains a tightrope walk. A stunning 74% rely on out-of-pocket payments, as highlighted by a recent PwC report. Affordability presents a formidable obstacle, leaving many Nigerians vulnerable and the healthcare system itself unsustainable.

Nigeria’s healthcare system faces a perfect storm: Rising costs of living due to inflation, reliance on medical imports, recurrent strikes, exodus of skilled healthcare professionals, and lack of basic infrastructure. These threats create a vicious cycle, eroding quality and accessibility for all. The result? A system struggling to meet present needs, let alone ensure future sustainability.

Across Africa, and particularly in Nigeria, a heavy reliance on imported medical equipment and pharmaceuticals poses a significant challenge. With over 70% of medications coming from foreign sources, this dependence drives up costs and undermines the long-term sustainability of the healthcare system. There is also the rising cost of fuel, which adds to the overhead costs of facilities and imported medications.

By investing in employee health, businesses not only empower their workforce but also foster a healthier and more productive workforce, drive employee retention, ultimately reduce turnover and pave the way for a transformed healthcare ecosystem.

Existing health insurance models, despite their potential to contribute to a thriving economy, are struggling to keep pace with the contemporary economy. Inefficiencies and static benefit structures limit their ability to address the evolving needs of businesses and employees.

Numerous healthcare facilities are owed significant amounts for services rendered, creating cash flow problems for both providers and insurers. With a smaller pool of insured individuals, insurers lack the leverage to negotiate better rates with providers, perpetuating a cycle of financial strain and hindering the overall quality of healthcare.

This combination of accumulated debt, service disruptions, unsustainable fees, and limited penetration creates a precarious situation for both healthcare providers and enrollees, highlighting the urgent need for innovative solutions to ensure a sustainable and adaptable healthcare system.

Bridging the Healthcare Coverage Gap

Imagine accessing quality healthcare on your terms, without long wait times or limited options. Imagine businesses leveraging digital health technology to offer comprehensive, affordable healthcare benefits that attract and retain top talent. This is the future of healthcare, and it’s happening right now.

Leading the charge in this exciting shift is Reliance HMO, a pioneering health insurance company at the forefront of healthcare innovation in Nigeria. With a focus on technology and prevention, we’re redefining access to quality healthcare. The future of healthcare is brighter than ever– and with Reliance HMO at the forefront, Nigerians are experiencing the difference firsthand.

Through a solid commitment to cutting-edge technology and a customer-centric approach, Reliance HMO is making healthcare accessible, convenient, proactive, and beneficial for both individuals and businesses.

Since inception, Reliance HMO has remained committed to transforming Nigeria’s healthcare insurance sector, while contributing to a better future for the ecosystem. We’ve already forced a paradigm shift, making telemedicine a non-negotiable option for Nigerian HMOs.

The preventive care and consumer-centric approach to healthcare that we deploy, give employees the support and information needed to stay healthy before problems arise. This not only benefits individual employees, but also drives business performance– as team members bring their best and most resilient selves to work.

Furthermore, we use technology to help businesses understand the real impact of employee healthcare plans on their personnel’s day-to-day lives. Empowered by insights, businesses are able to see the true value of their healthcare investments, ensuring they’re meeting the needs of their employees while staying within budget.

Plan members and admins also have direct access to dedicated support. For enrollees, this means prompt access to multichannel service via chat, phone, email, as well as an app including telemedicine, an overview of benefits, virtual ID and a searchable directory of providers. For admins, a dedicated account manager offers regular strategic support on how to get the most value from the health plan, while optimising utilisation.

Reimagining the Role of an HMO

At Reliance HMO, we’re committed to a seamless and supportive journey for both enrollees and administrators. From streamlined digital onboarding to multi-channel support, we blend technology and a personal touch to enhance accessibility and improve the overall experience..

“We have had experience with about five different HMOs.  Support took  so long. In fact, my weekends were usually crazy because everybody had to dash into the hospital due to weekly workloads.. With Reliance HMO, most of the information I need is on the app. It is convenient. I don’t even need to call the corporate retention person to find out some things. I appreciate the innovations Reliance delivers– they make the experience seamless”.

Iquo Ballantyne, Group Admin Lead at PE Energy Ltd

We’re seeing the impact of integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive quicker collaboration with providers, investing heavily in customer support and building tech solutions to make healthcare accessible and easy to navigate: improving businesses, communities and individual lives in Nigeria.

Redefining Sustainable Healthcare in Nigeria

Reliance HMO serves more than 2,000 businesses– all of which have shared Jude’s concerns at some point. Working with them, we hear the challenges faced by Nigerian businesses, corporations, and HR leaders first-hand. That’s why we’re so passionate about helping businesses to take control and actively support their teams’ physical and mental wellbeing. We know from experience that quality, transparent health benefits alleviate avoidable pressure on the talent management professionals, business owners, and the teams they manage.

Nigeria’s healthcare insurance landscape holds immense potential for growth, but discovering its true power demands a multi-pronged approach. Innovative technologies like telemedicine and data analysis can streamline processes, improve access, and personalize care. Expanding coverage to informal sectors and vulnerable populations is crucial for inclusivity and equity. Finally, benefit plans that embrace a holistic approach to wellness and prevention, incorporating education and healthy lifestyles can be absolutely transformative, delivering value to plan members before they ever get ill. Such strategies will drive sustainable progress for the entire sector. By embracing these strategies, Nigeria can unlock a healthier, more equitable future for all.

Dr. Ugochi has over ten years of experience in the fields of clinical medical practice and health systems strengthening. Driven by a longstanding passion to make an impact in healthcare services, Ugochi studied Molecular Biology and African Studies at Harvard University. She has a Medical Doctorate (MD) from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed internal medicine residency at the University of California, San Francisco. In her role at Reliance Health, she leads the expansion of Reliance Family Clinics franchise of primary health care facilities and growth of the acute-care telemedicine platform via the Reliance Care App.

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