Meet Cigna's Director of Health Care Providers

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We interview our Global Medical and Network Senior Director for the Americas, Dr. Lior Baruch. He manages the Clinical and Network teams as well as the emergency assistance programs.

I’ve got first-hand experience of what it’s like to move outside your home country. I was born in Israel, but when I was 10 years old my family told me we were going to spend our next holiday in Brazil. I didn’t even know where Brazil was, but I was very excited that I would get on a plane for the first time in my life.

 

"We send teams to assess hospitals and providers on the ground"

Dr. Lior Baruch, Global Medical and Network Senior Director for the Americas

 

Those holidays lasted 30 years – we never came back. My parents had just told me it was a holiday so I wouldn’t freak out. I did eventually freak out a bit, but I got over it and realized it was their way to protect me as parents. It also meant that from an early age I understood about living overseas!

I started as a general and trauma physician at public hospitals in Brazil. It was here I was able to gain experience with little to no resources, also working as a first responder in the public emergency mobile service. It gave me good experience at being ready for any emergency in any environment as well as to be a team player. After this experience, I did an MBA that covered global health care systems and hospital management and then joined another insurer before joining Cigna six years ago.

Nobody wants to be in a hospital with limited resources (or ‘underfunded hospital’?) where there are more risks. When I was in Brazil with Cigna, it was my job to develop an unmatched network in Latin America for our customers. We want to ensure they have best-in-class services that are cost effective too. We don’t want people going to a hospital with limited resources and ending up with even more complications. Likewise, we don’t want them to go a very expensive hospital and not get good value. We’re looking for the best solution for everyone, quality, and cost-effective care.

You  want to be in a patient-safety driven hospital. Imagine you’re overseas and you’ve hurt your left knee and it needs an operation. You’re under sedation on your way to the operating room and you can’t speak to tell them which knee needs attention. If they don’t do the correct procedure, you could end up with the wrong knee operated on. It sounds far-fetched but this kind of thing may happen. It’s why we partner with patient-safety accredited hospitals – to ensure the right procedure is performed with the highest care standards and in a cost-effective fashion.  

We send teams to assess hospitals and providers on the ground. Our team has an extensive local knowledge yet a global insight of the business. If a hospital doesn’t have accreditation by an approved organization then we will visit. Our experience in the field means we know which accreditation schemes we can trust and which areas we need to focus more attention on.

Every single country has its own peculiarities. Understanding health care systems in different countries is crucial. Whether it’s medical, dental or a pharmacy chain, we have in-depth knowledge of local peculiarities around the globe. We know their capabilities and understand why people may choose to go to a specific hospital in one country rather than another. Every country varies, even within its own borders. Health care delivery throughout Brazil, a continent-size country, for example, can be very different from one region to another, yet of high standards when compared to global peers.  

Our customer-centric mind-set drives us to go deeper, go local and go beyond. Once you’re an expat away from your home country – do you have access to health care? You may be in a city with lots of hospitals around you but are they the right ones? Do they offer the services you need? There’s such a huge discrepancy between the quality of hospitals in any part of the world. It’s only when you go inside or see some of the facilities in person that you realize why you do or don’t want your chief financial officer to be looked after there.

We serve all kinds of companies. We have different clients in several lines of business and some have employees based in very remote areas with limited resources, so we have to go that extra mile to put the contracts in place with the only medical centre within 100km so they can perform direct billing. That way, if you’re in need of health care, a doctor or perhaps a diagnostic test, you’re not going to need to worry about reimbursement, you just show your Cigna card and everything else happens behind the scenes. That’s the way it should be projected – completely seamless and delivering service excellence.

Every time you say ‘Cigna’ to a provider, they recognize us as a strong brand. By driving volume into a health care facility we are always in a strong position to get value. The fact remains, in some locations, if you combine all the other international insurances’ volume together they can’t match our volume. And the win-win relationship means everyone gets the best deal and the best service. Partnerships with providers help us delivering value to our common valued customer – the patient..”

- Dr. Lior Baruch, Global Medical and Network Senior Director for the Americas

 

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