You founded Medix Global in 2006. What was the inspiration behind this decision?
When I was young, I dreamt of being a doctor. But when I went to university, I chose to study Economics and Law. My subsequent career took me down the investment management route and I held diverse executive roles in the financial sector.
Following the birth of my third child, I went for a precautionary mammogram test and in the waiting room I had a lightbulb moment when I realised the intensity of the process. Fortunately, I had a positive outcome, but the waiting triggered a torrent of emotions, from uncertainty and isolation to the doubt and fear all patients feel when confronted with a potentially serious diagnosis.
I decided it was time to follow my early passions and start a company in the healthcare space, with a business model and goal that would change lives for the better. In 2006, I resigned from my corporate role, researched the gaps in the global healthcare and insurance industries, and founded Medix.
For those who may not know, what does Medix Global offer to the healthcare sector?
Medix Global provides a healthcare management service that bridges accessibility gaps for our clients in the ever-evolving world of quality healthcare. Through our global quality accredited network of more than 4,500 specialists and more than 2,000 hospitals, we provide our clients with the best possible path to quality healthcare while also avoiding the overuse and misuse of medical resources, which are known to drive up medical cost inflation.
Over the past 16 years, Medix has expanded into many areas of the healthcare world, yet central to it all is maintaining a focus on where we can make a life-affirming difference for our clients. One of the largest gaps in the world’s healthcare systems that needs addressing is the importance of a single point of contact who can consolidate and ensure all options are evaluated. This will help the patient navigate their medical journey and empower them with the correct medical information and counsel to make the right decisions. Healthcare has become so fragmented and specialist-focused, which can create a multitude of issues. There needs to be a multidisciplinary approach, so each patient and their family has their own Praetorian Guard protecting them.
Medix also enables insurers and large corporations to evolve from the role of ‘payer’ to ‘healthcare player’ and ‘ambassador’ and be in the position to proactively contribute to the healthcare landscape. For this to happen, we developed a model that allows them to provide members and employees with the necessary tools to successfully navigate their medical journey, from preventing the onset of serious medical conditions, to disease management, rehabilitation, and mental health support.
What does a day in your life, as President and Chief Executive Officer, involve?
Not enough sleep, unfortunately, and a huge amount of business travel. With offices in 12 different countries, combined with my own belief in keeping a very strong bond and relationship with my teams and customers on the ground, I tend to travel a lot.
Being passionate about medicine and healthcare, I also like to make sure I am involved in patients’ cases. I aim to be part of the care teams in a few very complex medical cases. By always going the extra mile, this involvement allows me to continue mentoring and lead by example.
You have said before that Medix Global has played a ‘disruptive role’ in the healthcare sector. How would you define a disruptor and how does the company meet your definition?
A disruptor radically changes the way we think and talk about a subject, challenging traditional models and methods and finding innovative and sustainable solutions for better outcomes. Medix fundamentally changes the way healthcare is delivered and consumed.
Back when we started, we were pioneers in providing virtual care rather than face-to-face in-clinic care. Over the years we have introduced many new care programmes and models, always challenging the status quo. We play a disruptive role in the healthcare sector by providing patients with the tools and information they need to maximise their own health outcomes, thereby reducing inequalities of care and unwarranted healthcare variations.
We provide a one-stop solution of more accessible, quality-driven care with personalised navigation, combining digital health and artificial intelligence (AI) with human interaction. We can do this across an individual’s life – including prevention, medical case management, rehabilitation, and mental health. We put healthcare back in the hands of the consumer, all supported by a range of digital, AI and personal care support. We believe that consumers should be able to access care 24/7, regardless of location or demographic. There should be no barriers to accessing affordable, quality healthcare.
The use of technology is one of Medix Global’s key standpoints, for example with its app. How important is technology’s role in the modern healthcare sector?
I am very excited about the role technology is already playing, not only for Medix, but broadly in the healthcare sector. Technologies powered by AI, Big Data, medical wearables, and various digital health applications increase accuracy, streamline processes and reduce inefficiencies, essentially transforming the way we provide and consume healthcare.
While the primary applications of wearable devices are more wellness focused, the possibilities are increasing with medical-grade wearables. They take many forms – such as patches, shirts, trousers, and socks – which are embedded with technology that does not impede our life, yet is entirely focused on improving it. This will enable us to collect data about members on a continuous basis and not wait until they are ill.
Machine learning and AI are other revolutionary enablers because of their ability to analyse vast amounts of data gathered from various sources. For example, electronic medical records (EMR) find patterns, associations, and insights, and ultimately make predictions and recommendations. Based on advanced algorithms, these are surely playing a much bigger role today, improving predictability and accuracy of medical care. AI-powered chatbots, for instance, already serve as a triage tool for patients by answering basic health queries and assessing symptoms.
Studies estimate that we are facing a global shortage of 7.2 million healthcare workers, a figure that will likely double by 2035. AI is a critical element in the healthcare landscape of the future and, over time, we will see more and more applications of this technology. This helps reduce unnecessary hospital and doctor visits while also empowering patients and providing them with information to help make informed decisions. This is not to say that AI will replace all doctors, but it can significantly increase efficiencies, augment their capabilities, standardise care, provide a powerful decision support tool and streamline healthcare processes.
Since the pandemic, the healthcare and health insurance fields have undoubtedly changed. What changes have you noticed, and do you think they will be long-lasting?
The pandemic showed us the need to urgently develop and implement digital health solutions. Remote and digitally enhanced care was already on the rise, but the pandemic fast-tracked this model of on-demand, remote care through digital health solutions, replacing in-person consultations. People want to access health services from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Scaling up remote and digital health services makes sense for the long term, as not only does it benefit patients, but with these in place, we will be in a far stronger position to offer healthcare services to the masses at an affordable price.
What would your recommendations be to companies in the industry to future-proof their businesses should another global medical crisis occur?
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted gaps and the urgent need for an integrated digital-physical healthcare ecosystem. We must build on what we have learnt, and not rest on our laurels and think this is a one-off.
What’s next on Medix Global’s agenda?
We are expanding our global presence, most recently opening offices in Germany and the US, with Latin America on our roadmap for expansion in the near future.
Our goal is to put the tools and solutions we have into the hands of as many people as possible and to continue to demonstrate that healthcare outcomes have improved, consumers are happier, and that great quality healthcare has no barriers. We are on a mission to democratise healthcare worldwide and flatten the inequality care curve.