Global Assistance Partners Co., Ltd. (GAP) is a pioneering company providing medical, repatriation and travel assistance services, established in 2009 and running on honesty and trust ever since. GAP’s aim is to understand the difficulties that international patients face when needing unexpected medical treatment in an unfamiliar culture. All GAP staff have abundant international experience, which is actively used to empathize with our multicultural patients and skillfully monitor them throughout the treatment process so that they can resume their daily lives as soon as possible Based on its reliable services that stem from honesty and modesty, GAP is suited to handle sudden outbreaks with its wide experience in international events. The 18th FINA World Championships & Masters Championships (Gwangju, July-August 2019; 110 cases) and the 23 d Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games (Pyeongchang, February-March 2018; 254 cases) are recent major events where high volumes of cases were handled by GAP successfully.
What are the main features of the GAP Operation Team and its procedure?
It comes down to rapidity, accuracy, and sincerity. GAP’s 24/7 Operation Call Center is more than confident to provide the promptest response with precision and ethics and is operated by a team whose staff can assist in English, Japanese, French, Russian and Korean.
Every e-mail is answered within 30 minutes – 10 minutes is our average response time – with an adequate reply, under the management of the operation team manager and the medical team that are on stand-by. Every week, our team also reviews and discusses any cases that have needed extra attention or special handling methods. Reviewing such cases builds awareness and provides precautions for the future, strengthening the team’s case management abilities. Our basic medical assistance service includes medical referral, outpatient/inpatient management and providing medical information and reports.
Above anything else, GAP stands out for its trustworthy attitude towards referred cases. n this context, cost containment has been achieved and our Guarantees of Payment have been placed at not only networked hospitals but also non-contracted medical facilities.
One of the biggest concerns for our international assistance partners is that their insureds may be billed for unnecessary medical treatments or overcharged by the treating hospital, where foreign patients are often billed at higher rates. We make sure that our clients receive the benefits of our cost containment capabilities, which is a fruitful outcome of our persistent endeavours in a great number of our international patient cases.
GAP staff is always within one-hour’s reach from the insured member’s location and can therefore easily action necessary requests, whether these are to provide cashless services to hospitals or to deliver equipment. Customers are invited to our online messenger platforms on KakaoTalk, WhatsApp, and Telegram to communicate in real-time with our team and receive convenient assistance at any time
Why is medical assistance more challenging in South Korea?
South Korea is compact and fast-paced, and its people are known for their diligence as they tend to seek effectiveness while doing their work. t is no surprise, then, to see these traits in the medical realm as well. A general ward nurse usually oversees at least seven patients in one duty and is too busy to bring water to or feed the patients. Therefore, a private guardian system has been activated to be responsive to such requests from patients, and a nursing integration service has recently been enforced with the support from Korea National Health Insurance
However, limited bed numbers and language barriers are still obstacles for foreign patients that need medical services, while hospitals’ default policy is to collect medical expenses from the patient directly before or after the consultation. There are no exceptions, even for inpatients, and they are not allowed to leave without paying the bill. t is an unfortunate reality, but the deceased are also not allowed to leave the mortuary without the total medical expense being paid. Koreans prefer to pay out-of-pocket, rather than using a cashless medical payment system, and then claim back the cost from their private insurance, which resultantly makes cashless medical payment systems unacceptable to most medical facilities in South Korea
GAP seeks cooperation with medical facilities in order to settle payments and resolve these issues for international patients and their insurance companies, and our staff is always prepared to visit medical facilities to provide necessary assistance. The team is aware of the frustration felt by patients who are faced with unexpected situations, such as having to make payments for large hospital bills.
We are also familiar with the concerns of insurance companies and the families of patients as to whether appropriate treatment and care in a reliable facility with specialized medical staff is being provided or not. After reviewing a hospital system thoroughly, the ultimate question is always asked by those who are related to the patient: “Can this hospital treat my family?”. Every medical file is monitored by our medical team, using our staff’s experience with local hospitals, which they visit regularly to carry out hospital audits. Our medical team follows up on the hospitals’ capabilities in treating international patients, not only from the aspect of the medical staff but also from the patient’s point of view
Our system complies with current laws to protect our clients’ personal data. It protects against unauthorized access, accidental damage or destruction of data.
We also guarantee confidentiality and restrict access to personal data internally. Our call record system is secured by a stable firewall and protection programs that enable safe messenger passage between companies and patients, with encrypted files to further protect personal information. Our software is developed to work easily with local providers and is designed for optimum performance, enabling a more accurate and prompt service, which plays a crucial part in case handling.
With the current outbreak of Covid-19, remote connection between the office system and the home computers of our operation staff is available and is secured by the same programs as the office.
How is GAP assisting with the Covid-19 outbreak?
In the very beginning, the virus outbreak was geographically limited within a few areas, and GAP decided to renew its case handling method and divide it into two: Patients in rural areas were asked about their recent travel history and their symptoms before any hospital arrangements were made for them, and those in the city were provided with appropriate medical consultations without any delay, thanks to our networked facilities.
However, infected cases were sporadically appearing in major cities such as Seoul and Gyeonggi without clarified epidemiological connections, which amplified the responsibilities of GAP. Early detection of the virus is our big focus so that our patients do not become a medium of the spread. We continue to obstruct the spread of Covid-19 by arranging prompt appointments and encouraging patients to wear a mask and not go outside before they receive a negative test result. Patients are almost always referred to a screening center that is near to their location.
Our workflow expedites the process as it is based upon our strong bond with the hospitals we have n our network. GAP is often contacted by, and is in cooperation with, public offices, assisting with services such as translations for epidemiological questions in English and obtaining clear information from patients. Again, our goal remains – rapidity, accuracy, and sincerity – and our team gives their best in updating and communicating accurate case progress with insurance companies as quickly as possible.
How does GAP predict its future relations?
As the frontrunner of the international medical assistance industry in South Korea, GAP is eager for new business relationships in order to make a leap forward. We can proudly say that our clear understanding of our customers’ needs reinforces our competent case handling, along with our experience of handling mass cases during large international events hosted locally. We further aim to continue to ensure reasonable and appropriate services by placing patients in suitable hospitals, whether networked or not. GAP endlessly strives to comprehend the cultures of international students, expats, travellers and insurers, and aims to become the pacemaker in the medical assistance world and ensure the safe return home of loved ones.