Connecting Rural Customers to Global Health Professionals
Connecting Vero Rural Customers to Leading Health Professionals Around the World
Vero Insurance, part of Suncorp New Zealand, has recently partnered with Best Doctors to provide its rural customers with free access to some of the world’s leading medical specialists.
“Around 700,000 New Zealanders live in rural communities, but if you live and work outside of a main centre, it’s not always easy to access specialist medical advice,” said Chris Brophy, Head of Rural Insurance at Vero.
“Having owners who are present and healthy is often a farm’s number one asset, so we’ve partnered with Best Doctors to help our customers who need expert medical advice, but live too far away to get it.”
Best Doctors remotely connects people with a health problem to a network of peer-nominated experts from around the world. It can be used to empower patients with more information and options in regards to their condition and also assist the treating doctor in deciding on the best course of action.
“86% of experts encourage second opinions, but often in rural areas it’s hard to even get an initial opinion due to distance and the shortage of doctors,” says Mike Morris, New Zealand Country Manager at Best Doctors. “Our service gives customers confidence that they and their doctor are making the right clinical decisions.”
In rural areas, procrastination in healthcare often leads to further health complications, which means more time off work.
For example, in rural communities in Australia 20% of illness or injury work absences last longer than three months, compared to the national average of 8%.
Best Doctors’ services include a remote review of a medical diagnosis and treatment plan, expert advice on existing medical conditions and access to GPs online.
“Consulting with an expert through Best Doctors results in a change of diagnosis in 10% of cases, and a change of treatment in 27% of cases,” says Mr Morris.
According to Rice Warner research in 2015, those changes result in a 20-26% reduction in absenteeism. An Australian health fund also found that when Best Doctors recommend a change in treatment medical costs are reduced by on average $6,900.
“Another health issue adversely affecting rural communities is the risk of misdiagnosis,” says Mr Morris.
The developed world has a misdiagnosis rate of approximately 15%. The consequences of misdiagnosis can often be serious, and rural GPs don’t always have the experience or specialisations to deal with the difficult clinical decisions they face.
“No one likes talking about health issues, but we want to ensure that our customers know that this service is there for them, so they can get on to any problems as quickly as possible,” says Mr Brophy.
“At this year’s Canterbury A&P show we’ll
be talking our customers through the offering, and answering
questions they have, so they understand the expertise they
can access, for free, and how it might make a
difference for them in the moments that matter.”