What makes a winning healthcare strategy for all? Jonathan Burton discusses Health Shield’s constant innovation and commitment

health savings

It’s one thing to think you’re the best at what you do, but it’s quite another to have this independently recognised by your peers, experts and HR commentators. That’s why we are extremely proud that Health Shield was recently crowned the ‘Best Cash Plan Provider’ at Reward magazine’s inaugural Very Important Benefits (VIB) awards.

Like most achievements, getting to where we are now has not been easy. It’s come about through many years of hard work and dedication and by always striving to improve on what we have done in the past.

We believe that this award recognises the clear strategy that we have implemented over the last few years – ensuring that we focus harder than ever on the relationships we form with employers and bring product innovation we know clients want.

We have continued to improve our product offering to our clients by raising the age of dependent children on our Corporate Plan offering from 18 to 21 and extending our Health & Wellbeing days to include therapist treatment taster sessions on the day. Just as importantly, we have launched and brought to the market new occupational health products: our Active Care Plus and The Occupational Health Care Plan products.

Both of these have been specifically designed to help employers reduce absence, enhance productivity and improve the way they manage the ongoing health and wellbeing of their employees. Active Care Plus reflects the increasing need for solutions to tackle stress in the workplace – a condition that has now overtaken musculoskeletal issues as the leading cause of workplace absence.

Meanwhile, our Occupational Health Care Plan provides members with unlimited access to OH nurses and physicians UK-wide. Benefits for the latter include OH helpline for human resources teams, online occupational health risk assessments, support for employers helping staff to recuperate and/or return to work and support with return to work interviews.

The key to continued employee wellness, productivity and engagement is speedy access to health interventions. The access advice and help we provide can make a positive difference and do so before it has the potential to create long-term (and potentially career-ending) problems.

We can maintain a policy of continued investment and improvement because we are a non-profit making Friendly Society. Health Shield has no shareholders. We operate solely for our members’ benefit, providing them with quality health cash plans and excellent health and wellbeing benefits. We are delighted that the market has recognised this too.

In 2014, we increased our market share by income from £27m to £29m. In fact according to the Laing & Buisson’s Health Cover UK Market Report 2014, we were the only cash plan in the top four-ranked providers to have increased market share by income in the preceding 12 months.

Our investment and customer-centric approach can also be seen in the launch of our reward website, PERKS. The online portal allows members to benefit from retail discounts, cash back and offers on food shopping, exercise, entertainment and travel. We have also improved our GP helpline benefit by including a new virtual GP Surgery & Private Prescription Service. Today, any employees struggling to see their doctor can now book a private virtual

GP appointment by calling a telephone number and have their prescriptions delivered direct to their door.

As proud as we are about the award, we always want to do more. When customers provide feedback, we respond. Health Shield was the first health cash plan provider to publish its claims statistics. Surveys had indicated that this was what our members wanted to know and so that’s what we provided. In 2014 we paid 97.4% of all claims made. We also paid 93% of these claims within two working days, whilst 99% of members were happy with the level of service they received from us.

We continually review our customer service standards, acting on responses received from our regular customer satisfaction surveys. This is partly what has helped us to grow our total membership by 19%, new members by 26% and new company schemes by 63% since 2013. Can we do better? Of course – but being voted best in our field is an accolade that merely serves to keep up the pressure on us to be innovative, rather than something that allows us to rest on our laurels.