SEEING that only 4 percent of the national population has health insurance coverage today, PhilCare expects to increase its share of the health maintenance organizations (HMOs) market with a 20-percent hike in membership over the next 12 months on the back of its digitization initiatives.

In a sideline interview during their press briefing in Makati City last week, PhilCare President and CEO Jaeger L. Tanco told the BusinessMirror they are optimistic to achieve this goal since all of the digital technologies and innovations they have introduced to the market have been well accepted.

“Right now, we’re fourth in the industry. We’re moving toward the third. But, of course, as we grow, we also like to target the people with technology and all those [innovative] things. We also like to maintain our very good service. I think what far more is very important to us is the number of clients who will retain with us,” he said.

At present, the HMO provider has a customer base of around 300,000, the bulk of which are corporate accounts, mostly business-process outsourcing companies.

“We have a good number of members already with PhilCare. The question is: How do we make it more efficient for them to get the services? How do we make it more easy for them?” said Christian G. Cristobal, SVP for sales and marketing of PhilCare.

The company already saw the digital trend early on and worked toward utilizing technology to improve their customers’ experience with their health care.

In fact, it was the first to kick off affordable prepaid health cards to the market for physical examination and consultation purposes. Then, it offered in 2016 the one-year, one-time use only ERVantage, which basically covers P40,000 worth of emergency to confinement services to their 5,000 affiliated clinics and hospitals for only P1,200.

With only 2,000 cards sold in the first year, the executive admitted the core agents they tapped as sales channels were not gaining traction in terms of their vision to get more Filipinos have health-care coverage.

“We found out another channel, which is the digital,” Cristobal said, noting that their e-commerce platform generated around 7,000 sales since its inception last year, bringing their cardholders to 9,000 at present. “We found it as a good venue for us to push our vision.”

PhilCare also pioneered in mobile app, with the introduction in 2017 of HeyPhil, which automatically generates Letters of Authorization for instant and easy availment of medical care.
Up and coming milestone is the launch on June 15 of DigiMed, the newest feature of the latter that allows users to call doctors and specialists with the app and consult for illnesses and symptoms for free. There are 20 medical practitioners already decked in the platform.

“Right now, there are several doctors who have already signed up with us. They’re able to answer, at the onset, from 6 a.m. to 12 midnight. But the intention is to launch it on a 24/7 basis,” PhilCare VP for Information Technology Group James L. Indino Jr. said.

Currently, there are around 52,000 downloads of HeyPhil from both iOS and Android, of which 10,000 are monthly active users. With the unveiling soon of DigiMed, the number of downloads is expected to increase between 150,000 and 175,000, while the range of active usage is seen to double to 20,000.

Helping achieve these figures are the addition of 200 doctors by August and, possibly, the group of foreign medical experts from the United States, whom PhilCare is currently in discussion with.
To help keep its growth trajectory moving forward, the firm seeks to continue to improve customer engagements with technological innovations.

“We really embrace technology as something that could help the customer, not only to lower the cost of an organization, but rather how to make it more convenient to the journey of the customer,” Tanco said.

“I guess in the market, HMOs are serving clients in the same way. But for PhilCare, we’d like to move ahead than the rest by taking advantage of digital technology without losing the human side of taking care of our cardholders. So it’s best to do it that way,” PhilCare AVP for Customer Experience Sonny B. Nono said.

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