Change is coming with technology at its heart says AMII chairman

Health Compass spoke to Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII) executive chairman David Middleton to get his views on the future for the sector and his thoughts on what the Health Compass platform will bring to the international private medical insurance (IPMI) market.

Set up in 1998, with the aim of creating the industry body for intermediaries, AMII has worked hard to deliver on its aim. AMII membership now includes providers as it continues to strive to be the voice of the whole health and wellbeing industry.

“We have set professional standards to be members are looking to provide training and education and seek to get intermediaries and providers collaborating to make the medical and wellbeing space a better world.” David explains.

While AMII is predominantly UK based, the association and its members are called to operate in the IPMI market.

“International medical insurance is important to a number of our members” explains David. “There is local coverage, of course, in all different areas in the world, but it’s not appropriate for some employees. Therefore, IPMI is a critical and growing piece of the international consulting jigsaw.”

However, he adds, while aspirations can be global, delivery can sometimes be a challenge.

“When members talk to global businesses, the immediate question is: are global employees covered correctly?  The answer may well be not.”

“Failure to understand how a business operates globally is a risk to UK only intermediaries as it leaves them open to their client having discussions with global consultancies. So for me, IPMI is important and all intermediary businesses should understand it.”

“International PMI provides wider coverage and is more expensive as a result. But cover has to be appropriate. There are without doubt employees in IPMI schemes that would be better suited to local plans,” he adds.

“On occasion remuneration can be ridiculously high, for the work that is done” he explains. “I do think there is a possibility that the FCA will review in the future particularly with them seeking to ensure that intermediaries justify the work it does for the remuneration it receives.

David believes that Health Compass can be part of the industry’s future.

“I have seen the Health Compass platform and it looks good,” he says. “As an intermediary, you need to be able to quickly compare cover and pricing and get quotes from providers which is a challenge as comparing a product against those in the market is not easy. I think, what David Eline and Health Compass has produced is excellent.

“It reduces the time taken to provide the right information to clients but also, from a compliance perspective, it actually ticks a lot of boxes too. I don’t believe that all providers are on the platform at the moment, but many are and more will come on board as time passes.”

He adds: “Technology done well really makes things simpler and more compliant.”

Looking to the future David says the UK market needs to get closer to its national health services and work together to tackle the threats they face.

“The pandemic has obviously changed many things in lots of areas, but we are coming out the other side,” he adds. “The pandemic has enhanced the use of technology. We have seen that it is possible to have consultations with GPs and with consultants via Zoom or by Teams.

“If there’s positive from the pandemic, I think that is one of them: we now understand that we don’t always have to do things face to face. Having said that I still think there is a place for face to face because human beings tend to like that.

“Wearable technology will become increasingly prevalent to provide data for services that make decisions about our health. At the moment, we can track our steps, we can track our heart rate to an extent but new innovations will provide more data to help us with the delivery of health and wellbeing without shadow of doubt.”

“I’d like to see the NHS and the private medical sector working more closely. We saw it work during the pandemic, because the private hospitals were utilised by the NHS and that was a real positive. But there’s still an awful lot to do.

“Many of the consultants are working across both, but as groups the NHS and private sector don’t work closely together.

“The future seems bright for the sector as we are seeing a lot more demand for private medical treatment at the moment both on an insured and self pay basis quite simply because of NHS waiting lists.”