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Medical concierge to your rescue

Last updated on: February 25, 2013 13:08 IST

Medical concierge to your rescue

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Yogini Joglekar in Mumbai

When a Mumbai-based medical concierge services company arranged for a quick consultation with the cardiologist at Fortis for one of its customers in Delhi, it was just the beginning.

The service didn't stop there. After the customer, a patient, was discharged, the family wanted to have a qualified nurse to monitor the patient for a few more days.

The company stepped in to suggest names of agencies which could provide these services.

She got to make use of these services as her husband was a travel policyholder of ICICI Lombard, which offered these services free of cost to the policyholder's family.

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Providing contact details of medical services, fixing appointments with doctors, planning an abroad trip to get medical aid and arranging for accommodation are a few services that fall under the ambit of a medical concierge.

Concierges which take charge of such details are also called medical facilitators.

This market is huge abroad.

In India, it is yet to pick up in a big way.

However, some institutions do offer medical concierge services in their own way.

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While wealth managers offer these end-to-end facilities under a common head of other concierge services, Sahara Care House and other medical centres offer it exclusively.

Non-resident Indians or foreigners who come to India for cheap medical facilities are the biggest target group for these services.

For instance, ICICI Lombard offers medical services only to their foreign travel policyholders.

In other words, it takes care of the family of the insured in India, while the insured is travelling.

Sanjay Dutta, head-customer service at ICICI Lombard, says, "This is a new facility offered to our travel policyholders and we realised there was an increasing need for this."

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While this is offered to the family of the insured, most needs arise out of emergency.

"Personal care and quick assistance to patients are the need of the hour," says Dutta.

In the case of a travel policy, a 30-year old travelling to Europe for 10 days will have to pay a premium of Rs 1,300 for a medical insurance of $100,000 (about Rs 54 Lakh).

This policyholder's family can make use of the medical concierge services offered by the insurer.

The insurer can help the family with medical information on the city or location including transport, documentation and local culture information.

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The insurer can also move the patient or the injured to a medical centre, with air or surface transport where needed.
Some private hospitals have started concierge desks, where packages can be bought for the patient.

It could be basic offering such as a spa, gym or restaurant coupon to the patient's family.

For instance, Sahara's hospital in Lucknow allows relatives to view and speak to the patient in the counselling room at the hospital without compromising on hygiene and sterility.

For a Mumbai-based private hospital, such concierge packages start from Rs 10,000, which includes hospitality and wellness-related services.

Sahara Care House, an online concierge portal, offers medical services under their healthcare services bracket.

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For instance, the website says their relationship ambassador recently helped a person through his by-pass surgery process, while his family was back in Australia.

A medical concierge is like a coin with two sides.

Such services might be rendered coming out of a high net worth individual's requirement or a patient who requires immediate attention.

For instance, a person who needs to be admitted on an emergency basis and a father who wants to send across gifts and flowers to his child admitted in hospital.

With the increase in medical tourism in India, there is a need for such services.

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According to estimates, India's share in the global medical tourism segment will reach around three per cent of GDP by end-2013.

Major healthcare players in India such as Apollo and Fortis have reported that 10 per cent of their revenue comes from this segment.

If medical tourism bridges problems such as lack of transparency in billing system, low patient flow, etc, then there will gradually be more demand for medical concierge services.

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