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A new frontier for brokers: expanding access to healthcare through technology

Digital health platform, Unu Health, is revolutionising access to private healthcare for unserved market segments from as little asR165 per person per month – and opening up a whole new frontier for brokers.Driven by the vision of providing universal access to quality healthcare inSouth Africa and other African countries, Unu is leveraging technology to make this happen. And the need couldn’t be more urgent.


South Africa has been ranked the unhealthiest country in the world by the IndigoWellness Index (March 2019), considered the most comprehensive survey of its kind. This not only means that life expectancy is ten years below the international average but that the country’s productivity is impacted so badly it affects Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


“Few people realise that around 15% of the workforce is on sick leave on any given day,” says Neil Kinsley, Unu Health’s Head of Global Distribution and New Business Development.


“Of these, many – if not most – have had to take time out to wait in long queues at public clinics to receive treatment for routine health issues. This means that every time an employee without medical aid has the flu, needs treatment for a chronic condition such as high blood pressure or needs advice about a sick child, they have to take the day off work to access the healthcare they need.”


Unu is changing this by bringing together the best in healthcare and health technology for the benefit of all – in one convenient platform.


Bridging the gap between healthcare providers and patients – and alleviating unnecessary pressure on the public healthcare system – Unu is opening the door to user-friendly and affordable healthcare for everyone.


For brokers, this means they can offer their business and corporate clients fully integrated employee wellness programmes that provide for all staff, regardless of income level. They can also offer their clients an invaluable tool to manage high rates of absenteeism and improve productivity.


So what are the benefits Unu offers?
In short, all employees can now access networked private healthcare whenever they need it, save time, know their health numbers and take ownership of their wellbeing.


Unu offers instant nurse chats, online consultations with network doctors, in-person consultations with network doctors (if referred by an Unu nurse), a range of in-rooms procedures, acute and over the counter (OTC)medication, a monthly health check done using an online face scan, casualty cover, a personal health record and a digital membership card – all easily accessible from members’ phones. Then, depending on which of the Unu plans they select, they can also benefit from chronic medication, specialist visits, pathology, radiology, optometry, dentistry and in-hospital treatment.


Employers, in turn, have access to a wellness dashboard with a fully anonymised overview of staff. This provides predictive data and meaningful insights to inform human resource strategy, lower absenteeism, improve productivity, and enhance employee benefits to attract and retain staff.


“We want to make workplaces healthier and happier places to be,” says Kinsley. “We are aiming to help employers create thriving work environments by providing their employees with the technology, tools and information they need to stay healthy – at work and at home.”


With Unu, brokers can now offer comprehensive wellness programmes that include medical cover for all staff, even those who can’t afford traditional medical aid. This means that companies which may be at risk because as many as75% of their staff can’t afford medical aid, will not only be able to improve the quality of life for their employees, but manage this risk effectively. And that’s just the start. Unu estimates that, by improving life expectancy by as little as one year per person, GDP could improve by 4%.