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Many interesting things happened on the market in 2019 and undoubtedly had an impact on the private healthcare market in Poland. As Artur Bialkowski, member of the Management Board of Medicover sp. z o.o., managing director for business services, says in an interview with PMR, for the first time in years governmental and public institutions support has contributed so much to the development of telemedicine services in Poland.
Telemedicine in the private healthcare market
Access to an e-prescription, an online patient account, the possibility to issue e-prescriptions and e-releases has given private providers many opportunities to provide telemedical services.
– The public sector has started to promote this type of solutions, which translates directly into the public perception. Since the NFZ promotes this type of services, for many patients it is a guarantee that they constitute a real, full health solution or a medical consultation – emphasises in an interview with PMR Artur Bialkowski, member of the Management Board of Medicover sp. z o.o., managing director for business services.
Cooperation with KIR has also had a positive impact on the development of remote medical care services in the Medicover group. This allowed for remote authorisation through mojeID and the possibility of setting up an account on an online telemedicine platform without visiting the facility. In 2019 Medicover provided a total of nearly 3 million telemedical services and advice, including: telephone contact, online chat or advice via e-mail. What is more, the coronavirus epidemic has contributed to a dozen-fold increase in the number of telemedical advice provided by Medicover in the first quarter of 2020.
– Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Medicover has not suspended the provision of stationary services, but has encouraged all patients to use telemedical services. Prior to the physical visit, an interview was conducted to determine whether, for safety reasons, patients would not be willing to switch from a visit to the centre to a telemedicine service – it turned out that 70% of patients switched the type of service chosen. It is worth noting that the NPS, i.e. the indicator of satisfaction and willingness to recommend services to other people, after telemedical visits, is at level 83 – explains Managing Director of Business Services at Medicover.
The private healthcare market will undoubtedly be affected by the coronavirus pandemic – especially FFS segment
After still solid economic growth in 2019 (4.0% in real terms, YoY), as a result of a widening pandemic, growing uncertainty in the external environment, as well as a worsening internal situation, we expect GDP to fall this year. In the first phase of the coronavirus epidemic, the most severe effects on the private medical care market were felt by segments related to FFS operations, including dentistry or outpatient specialist care. Furthermore, additionally paid medical vaccinations were suspended for some time.
– It will be difficult to maintain the market dynamics we have had so far. There is a chance that subscriptions and insurance will develop dynamically in 2020, more in the B2C sector than in B2B. The shorter the downtime turns out to be, the faster we will begin to return to normal. If we assume optimistically that employers will maintain employment, there is a chance that this market will not suffer so much – said Artur Bialkowski, member of the board of Medicover sp. z o.o.
It is worth noting that a very large part of Medicover’s revenues are B2B, i.e. from employers. Therefore, the number of company employees directly translates into the number of patients in the Medicover group. As Artur Bialkowski emphasises, the effects of possible employment reductions in companies will be visible at the end of this year. If there is a second wave of epidemics, these effects will be more serious.
Medicover development plans
Medicover plans to develop services in the area of telemedical platforms, including the development of remote diagnostics. Currently, the company offers the possibility of e.g. sending a photo of a skin lesion to a dermatologist. If the doctor is able to assess the lesion on its basis – he can recommend remote treatment. The Medicover group also develops health-promoting areas, including OK System sports packages, including online trainings or dietary solutions. According to Artur Bialkowski, health is not only medicine – it is built by the whole lifestyle – it is how we eat, how we move and how we function every day.
– When it comes to Medicover’s organic development, we have to wait for what will happen on the market and how many patients we will have in the next months. Currently, it is difficult to make decisions about investments or not, but we will react quickly depending on how the whole economy will react – adds Artur Bialkowski.