New contract between NHIF, A&K Global Health delivers comprehensive healthcare management benefits to all Kenyan citizens
Nairobi, Kenya – April 20, 2016: A&K Global Health is proud to announce that it has signed a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to provide comprehensive healthcare management and medical travel facilitation services to all NHIF members. The early weeks of implementing this SLA, which was formally signed in Nairobi on March 14, 2016, have already demonstrated tremendous impact on the access and affordability of quality healthcare for Kenyan citizens.
“The terms of reference were quite clear,” Stephen Masinde, A&K Global Health’s Kenya National Director, said of the NHIF’s requirements. “The NHIF was looking for a company with strong hospital relationships in Kenya, India, and other countries abroad; transparent, well-established fiscal operations in each location; and the ability to deliver the best holistic support to patients.” Such holistic support spans the healthcare life cycle, from ensuring the best hospitals and the optimal matching of individual cases to service providers to delivering the highest quality medical treatments and technology and professionally synchronizing patients’ reintegration into the Kenyan healthcare system upon return. The NHIF was also seeking improved controls over financing medical treatment abroad, including cost savings on patient accommodations, airfare, and medical bills. Though the award process was highly competitive, A&K Global Health’s network and expertise emerged as the best fit for the multi-year contract.
“A&K Global Health has experience in all these areas,” Mr. Masinde noted. “We’ve solved patients’ problems from and in multiple countries, we have financial muscle, good relationships with hospitals, and solid experience guiding patients correctly to the right hospital and treatment for their unique situation. And our network of doctors locally in Kenya enables us to support patients with excellent medical follow-up when they come home.” Further, A&K Global Health offered the NHIF a strong contingent of medical personnel among its employees. This will prevent sensitive patient medical records from being handled by non-medical staff unable to assess the clinical implications of medical record content – another level of assurance that ours was the team capable of providing NHIF clients with the most timely, medically appropriate and logistically sound guidance and support.
This SLA has been years in the making. Kenyans have been traveling abroad for medical treatment, and to India in particular, in increasing numbers over the past decade. Four simple qualities drive this phenomenon: in Kenya, improved routine healthcare monitoring and diagnostic capabilities are helping more patients identify medical conditions and pursue timely interventions. And India is an attractive place for Kenyans to seek treatment, given the lower cost of care, availability of specialists and advanced medical technology, and access to certain highly sophisticated procedures like bone marrow transplants that simply aren’t yet performed within Kenya’s rapidly progressing healthcare system.
“About three years ago, A&K Global Health discovered that because of these gaps in domestically available care, the NHIF was paying for patients to receive treatment abroad…but without an organized process,” Mr. Masinde explains. “Patients would travel, return with their bill, and the NHIF would refund the entire amount.” Two major problems with these practices soon surfaced. First, patients were solely responsible for arranging everything from travel, accommodations and visas to medical referrals and follow-up care coordination. In many cases, the benefits of a complex treatment received overseas were compromised or altogether erased by the absence of professional oversight of the patient’s entire experience. Additionally, some hospitals took advantage of the NHIF’s lack of presence at the point of service delivery and began inflating NHIF patients’ bills. Costs soared, while long-term clinical outcomes remained mixed, despite the improved quality of the individual interventions received overseas.
In the years since, A&K Global Health’s tireless healthcare advocacy on behalf of Kenyans has grown our partnership with the NHIF. Our first Memorandum of Understanding with the NHIF engaged us to manage international medical care for NHIF clients – at this time, limited to Kenyan civil servants – but did not change the NHIF’s reimbursement policy. Hospitals were still paid directly and retroactively, and patients had to fund their own airfare, food, accommodations and all other expenses not strictly medical. “In the second year of our relationship with the NHIF, we advocated for the coverage of these expenses, as they were essential to the process of receiving care abroad and their cost was prohibitive to many patients,” Mr. Masinde said. Our efforts were aligned with the NHIF’s vision: the NHIF passed a new budget and began paying for airfare, food and accommodations, though only for the designated patient. Family caregivers, travel companions, parents of child patients and donors for transplant procedures were still completely unfunded, again preventing many critically necessary medical interventions solely on the basis of cost.
Finally, with A&K Global Health’s sharing of patient experiences and the challenges of medical travel, the NHIF in 2015 expanded its benefits to fully support the costs of caretakers, parents, donors, and patients across all travel expense categories. And in early 2016, the NHIF extended its new medical travel benefits to the general public: as of February 1, 2016, all NHIF card-carrying members are eligible to access these generous benefits, including A&K Global Health services.
“This is a huge healthcare management success story,” Mr. Masinde declared enthusiastically. “A&K Global Health makes patient advocacy and logistics problem-solving available in a one-stop shop, and this agreement makes the quality care and comprehensive health management that we offer accessible to many more Kenyans.” Already, the impact on individuals is clear and compelling: before the agreement took effect, A&K Global Health on average prepared 25 Kenyan patients per month for international travel and treatment. In just the first few weeks since the SLA signing, that number more than doubled, increasing the life-saving care available to Kenyan citizens. And with these amplified patient volumes, A&K Global Health is able to effectively negotiate with vendors as the NHIF’s procuring agent of bulk airfares, hotel stays and hospital procedures while ensuring the highest medical quality and oversight, thereby delivering the cost savings and controls the NHIF requires in order to sustain the provision of these health benefits to all Kenyans into the future.
A&K Global Health is excited to support the strategic vision of the NHIF and to serve the Kenyan people. We are committed to Kenya’s Vision 2030, and as we work with the public and private Kenyan healthcare systems to identify quality national treatments – cardiac and renal surgeries being the priority procedures – we will manage patients to receive such care domestically. A&K Global Health is likewise dedicated to showcasing Kenya as a healthcare destination for East Africans and as a model for other countries seeking to deliver quality and affordable healthcare to their populations.
In the photograph above: Stephen Masinde, A&K Global Health’s Kenya National Director, adds his signature to the company’s new Service Level Agreement with the National Hospital Insurance Fund.
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