Financial services group Discovery has announced several new innovations and changes within its Discovery Health portfolio, at its annual product-update event this week, including a Discovery Hospital service and international coverage.

“The golden thread running through the various elements we shared with the financial adviser community and media today, was our focus on personalisation of healthcare through digitally-powered processes,” said Dr Ryan Noach, CEO of Discovery health.

He said that the new features, with a particular focus on four ground-breaking areas, will be made available in 2022 on a phased basis.

Discovery Hospital at Home 

From January 2022, DHMS members will have access to Discovery Hospital at Home – hospital-level care delivered in a patient’s home for several medical and surgical conditions that would otherwise require admission to the hospital.

Noach said that the system would work as follows:

  • DHMS members are admitted to Discovery Hospital at home through a referral by their doctor.
  • Once admitted, they access integrated, cutting-edge technology that allows for real-time remote monitoring 24/7 of patients’ vital signs.
  • Medical providers continually assess the patient’s health status, monitor their medical stability, track treatment compliance, and recommend interventions when necessary.
  • When patient deterioration is detected, actionable notifications enable caregivers to deliver real-time clinical interventions.

“Overall, members are supported by highly personalised care team with skilled clinical staff, clinical protocols and best clinical practices, and appropriate medical scheme benefits,” said Noach.

“Together, these benefits and services ensure a seamless healthcare experience for patients. Services are funded from members” hospital benefits and are subject to pre-authorisations. Patients can always reach a clinician if they have questions or concerns.

“Family members are kept up to date on the patient’s progress, either during the home visits or through a virtual consultation. Depending on a patient’s specific needs, consultations with allied healthcare professionals may be incorporated into their personalised care plan.”

Qualifying members also have access to transport services, daily meals to cater for specific dietary requirements, and a 24-hour carer for elderly members.

Chronic conditions

Discovery pointed to the emergence of Long Covid trends following almost 20 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, with one in every 10 people who contract Covid-19 experiencing symptoms for longer than three weeks following an acute phase of illness.

“While Long Covid is not yet fully understood, people across the world who are experiencing long Covidsymptoms have reported that they are struggling to manage their symptoms while feeling stigmatised and unsupported,” Dr Noach said.

Discovery Health has partnered with myHealthTeams to provide DHMS members living with diabetes or heart disease and those impacted by Long-Covid, with access to a digital community of patients living with the same illness. This offering will take effect in January 2022, Noach said.

He said that the system will work as follows:

  • It connects patients living with the same chronic illness to exchange real-world health experiences and stories.
  • It brings in active engagement by medical experts to ensure all conversations and patient-to-patient exchanges are clinically moderated.
  • Allows access to regular blogs and live Q&A sessions with local and international medical experts.
  • Allows patients to access condition-specific curated content, including the latest clinical treatments and advances in research.

International service 

Vitality Health International will extend Discovery’s footprint into the rest of Africa with launch of “Travel for Treatment” and “International Health Insurance Products”.

From 2022, employers with operations in several African countries will be able to offer their employees living and working in Africa access to healthcare through Vitality Health International.

“We have drawn on our extensive experience in the design of this fully digital, innovative health insurance product. It meets the needs of customers in each market, though four plan options,” said Dr Jonathan Broomberg, chief executive of Vitality Health International.

“Cover will be available from 1 January 2022 and initially only for Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya. We aim to expand into a large number of other countries on the continent throughout 2022.”

“We have health insurance operations in China, US, Australia and UK and we are very pleased to announce today our expansion into several African countries outside of our home country of South Africa,” said Dr  Broomberg.

Discovery Pay

Discovery Bank launched Discovery Pay at the end of 2020, a platform that promises secure payments between Discovery contacts with just a cellphone number, no matter where they bank.

In 2022, all Discovery Health Medical Scheme members can use Discovery Pay to transact across the healthcare system. Members can also access Pay as you Gym facilities nationwide and pay Discovery Bank clients using a single number.

  • Activation of Discovery Pay is once-off and activates all features, including payments for healthcare and Pay As You Gym.
  • There is no additional cost for activating and using Discovery Pay.

By linking their digital Discovery Bank service, DHMS clients will transact seamlessly anywhere in the healthcare system, such as instantly settle any outstanding co-payments or medical payments without the hassle of reconciling part-payments, across a network of the more than 6,400 general practitioners nationwide,” said Noach.

“The Discovery Pay integration also extends to members engaged in Vitality, where they can access to more than 150 Virgin Active or Planet Fitness facilities nationwide on a Pay As You Gym basis, at discounted rates, from as little as R75 per visit, depending on the retail rate of the specific club.”

Three months of free Vitality for DHMS members

Vitality will extend its ‘three months offer for free’ to members of most medical schemes administered by Discovery Health, including DHMS.

Clients can choose to try Vitality or Vitality Active free for three months, enjoying all the benefits of that programme, with the option to cancel at any time within the three months.

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