Episode #28 of NAVIGATE discusses the important role vetted provider networks play in travel assistance.
The Role Provider Networks Play in Safe Travel
0:00:04 – 0:00:30
|Hello and welcome to the Navigate podcast. My name is Julie Saunders and I’ll be your host for today. Today I’ll be talking with Alerah Turner. Alerah is World Travel Protection’s Global Chief Operating Officer. Before her recent appointment to this role, Alerah has been the Director of Global Provider Networks for the last seven years. And today we will be discussing the importance of a provider network, and how World Travel Protection enables you to travel with confidence. Hi Alerah, and thanks for taking the time to talk with us today.|
0:00:30 – 0:00:34
|Hi, Jules. It’s a pleasure to be here today. And I’m really looking forward to discussing all things network.|
0:00:35 – 0:00:40
|That’s great, Alerah. So for our listeners, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background?|
0:00:40 – 0:00:57
|Yeah, definitely. So I’ve actually been with the business for 20 years, I’ve got experience across both the insurance and medical assistance industries. And obviously, over the past seven years, I’ve had a really core focus in that network space and making sure that our travellers have access to the right providers.|
0:00:57 – 0:01:03
|So obviously, with that large amount of experience to help us get started, can you talk a little bit about what a provider network actually means?|
0:01:04 – 0:02:01
|Yeah, definitely Julie. So essentially, a provider network is foundational to any travel risk management company. It’s essentially ensuring your teams are able to effectively and efficiently triage a customer into the right care at the right time. And obviously for the right price. A provider networks usually made up of both medical and non medical services that a customer can access in their time of need. And these can range from obviously, your medical facilities, so your public and private hospitals and outpatient facilities through to transportation companies, and other related services that provide assistance to travellers who encounter unexpected issues or emergencies whilst they are abroad. They’re typically offered by travel risk management assistance companies that provide a range of services to help travellers in various situations. And as mentioned, some of the services that are provided could entail emergency medical assistance, medical evacuation, repatriation of mortal remains, travel and medical advice and assistance with lost or stolen documents and other related services as well.|
0:02:01 – 0:02:17
|I noticed Alerah you mentioned at the start – and I couldn’t agree more – that a provider network helps to ensure that a person receives the right care at the right time for the right price. Can you talk further as to why it’s important that a travel risk management team has access to a vetted provider network to rely on?|
0:02:18 – 0:04:27
|Yes, certainly. So I think when it matters most, you want to ensure that you can deliver on your promise of keeping customers safe in their time of need, and really enabling them to travel with confidence. As a travel risk management provider, it’s really important to ensure you’ve got a robust, vetted network. There are several reasons as to why this is actually important.|
The first item really centres around that quality assurance. So a better provider network ensures that providers are properly licensed, accredited and meet the quality standards of this specific travel risk management provider. This also helps to ensure that the services provided to travellers are of high quality and that they are receiving appropriate care.
Another really key consideration is cost control. Obviously, inflation is happening all around the world. And it’s really important that we have a vetted network because it enables us to go in and negotiate lower rates for the services that we need. It also helps to control costs of the medical care and other services that travel was may need, again when they’re traveling overseas.
A third and salient item is really the response time. So this ultimately means that we can respond to emergencies or unexpected situations with pace. We can quickly connect travellers with appropriate medical or other services, reducing the time it takes to actually get the help that they need as well.
And one other key component is obviously that local knowledge, so a vetted provider network can really provide travel risk management providers with the local knowledge and expertise that they need to navigate. This can be really especially important in foreign countries where there may be language barriers or cultural nuances that we need to consider for travellers. And it actually can also assist in navigating local healthcare systems as well.
Last but not least, is obviously the legal compliance side of it or so it really enables TRM providers to have a duty of care to their clients and a better Provider Network helps them to meet their legal obligations. We can ensure the providers in the network meet local regulations and standards and we can reduce the risk of legal issues or liabilities for our customers and clients.
So overall, a vetted provider network is a critical component of any travel risk management organisation, as it helps us to ensure travellers receive appropriate care and assistance when they need it most.
0:04:27 – 0:04:53
|Some great points raised their Alerah. And I know World Travel Protection places a significant emphasis on vetting our network of providers. We obviously have a broad range of providers. However, maybe we can delve a little deeper into how do we deliver on some of those points that you raised? You know, for example, you talked about quality. So how do we ensure that the quality of a hospital is actually what it says it’s it is? I guess I’m asking – What does vetting of a provider network actually mean?|
0:04:53 – 0:06:35
|Yeah certainly, Jules. So essentially vetting of a provider network generally involves evaluation and screening process. To ensure that each provider meets certain criteria and standards. This process can include checking a provider’s credentials, verifying their licensing and accreditation, reviewing their track records and reputations, and also assessing the quality of their facilities, equipment and obviously staffing ratios to ensure that the quality of a hospital is actually what it claims to be. The vetting process may also involve conducting what we call site visits. So reviewing of medical records when you’re on site gathering feedback from actual previous patients, and then this also can feed into your provider classifications, which then ultimately result in a rating system where your team can then leverage that to referring to the correct level of care available to a customer. Ultimately, this can help to identify any areas where the hospital may fall short and ensure that it meets any necessary standards and requirements for providing that care. The ultimate goal of vetting provider network is to ensure that travellers have access to reliable high quality medical care when they need it most. Ultimately, by working with a network of trusted providers World Travel Protection can help to ensure that our clients receive the best possible care in the event of a medical emergency whilst traveling. One key highlight that I’d like to bring up as well is we conducted a site audit in Southeast Asia. And obviously, before going you do your research online to understand service capability and I guess, get a feel for what it may look like. And once we put boots on the ground, it was a very different experience. So one key takeaway is don’t always believe what is portrayed on the internet because it may not always be factual.|
0:06:35 – 0:07:00
|It’s so true, isn’t it? It’s such critical information to our teams with as well when they were making that first case and helping someone in their their time of crisis. I know Alerah when talking with clients, they often require assurance that the provider network in a particular area has been thoroughly evaluated, especially when it comes to things like emergency situations like evacuations. How does the network team approach some of these specific requests should you get them.|
0:07:00 – 0:08:37
|So when our clients require assurance that a provider network in particular area has been thoroughly evaluated essentially our network team work in conjunction with that client, and we provide them with detailed information about the vetting process and the specific criteria and standards that providers must meet to be included in our Global Care Network. Ultimately, they work with our clients to identify any areas where we may also need to focus on expanding the breadth and depth of our network access, so we can ensure that it doesn’t matter where their customers are in the world, we can assist them. In the case of emergency situations, like evacuations, which I mentioned, Jules, the network team have specific protocols in place to ensure our customers have access to quality care as quickly as possible. This involves utilizing our internal global care network database. And this is where we maintain all of our providers for each area, we can establish communication channels with those local providers and also develop contingency plans to address any potential issues or challenges that may arise during an evacuation. Obviously, they are probably one of our high risk types of cases that we manage, and we do it on a daily basis, and we do it really well. So yeah, the operations team are very well versed in managing those types of cases and leveraging that information out of our global care network database. So again, overall, the network’s team goal is to provide clients with peace of mind by ensuring that they have access to that reliable high quality medical care, no matter where they are in the world. And by working closely with the provider that maintaining those strict standards that we’ve mentioned, the team can then help to ensure that both our clients have peace of mind in our service delivery and that the customer receives the best care possible in any situation they find themselves in.|
0:08:37 – 0:08:47
|Yeah thanks, Alerah. So that certainly gives our listeners more insight into how we vet our own provider network. Can you tell us a little bit more than about the technology that then supports that provider network?|
0:08:48 – 0:10:53
|Yeah, so as you know, World Trade Protection has in house provider database called the Global Care Network, which is fondly known as the GCN. This was actually deployed into our operations in 2019. And throughout that time, we’ve obviously built it out to be a very robust platform that houses all of our IP on our third party service networks. So it’s essentially designed to support our staff in locating the most suitable providers based on the triage of a customer’s presenting symptoms. As an example, if our medical team triage the customer, and it’s determined that the condition is low acuity, the team may refer into a suitable virtual care provider. And that’s done via the GCN. It’s essentially the central repository of all of our provider information, including all of their credentials, facilities and service offerings. It also is built on the Salesforce platform and it’s integrated into our case management system which allows us to provide seamless assistance to a customer in our time of need. Our network team also utilize this platform to ensure the information in the database is accurate and up to date. The system is designed to automatically send reminders out to our provider around information that may also require updating and it also contains all the information gathered during our due diligence and site inspection processes that we have internally. Another item for the system is, it also includes robust data management system, which allows our network team to easily search and filter providers based on specific criteria. This criteria can be location, specialty, or even language requirements of a particular customer. And obviously, this helps to ensure that the customers are directed to the provider who have the capabilities to provide the care that’s required at that time. One of the really great features of the system though really centred around our directional care initiatives. So essentially, when a customer calls through to our team and goes through our triage process, our medical team can then source the provider and send those directions directly to the customers smartphone, it’s actually a really convenient option for a customer and it really provides a seamless experience for them when they’re trying to source a reliable provider. It sort of takes the angst out of actually having to locate a provider in their time of need as well.|
0:10:54 – 0:11:03
|So if I was a provider looking to work with WTP, how would I apply to become a preferred provider, and then what type of documentation is really important through that process?|
0:11:03 – 0:11:53
|So it’s actually quite easy to submit an expression of interest with our organisation. So you can actually head to our website at www.worldtravelprotection.com. And all you need to do is select the about us and there you will actually find the global care network component of the website and you can actually submit an expression of interest there. Once that’s been done, essentially, our team will review that EOI and the due diligence process then commences and so our internal due diligence process, which I’ve kind of touched on throughout this discussion, Jules, it just encompasses completion of what we call our contact and capability form and submission of any relevant documents to support that submission. So we may request insurances or air operator’s certificates, depending on the type of provider that is applying to become part of the GCN. There will be different question sets that they do need to go through obviously.|
0:11:53 – 0:12:10
|You touched earlier on the connection between the provider network and our teams, and essentially, a provider network is only as good as how our teams can use it and when they need it. So can you expand a little bit more on how do our medical and logistical teams actually use the network to help a customer when they need it most?|
0:12:10 – 0:13:39
|Yes, at least so World Travel Protection provide a network plays an important role in supporting our medical and logistical teams and providing directional care to our customers. Essentially, when a customer needs medical assistance, our medical teams can use this provider network to quickly identify and connect a customer with a qualified health care provider in their area. They can also use a platform to assess information about that provider. As they all have a specific profile attached to their account, they can look at the location in relation to the customer, and all their service offerings, and obviously any other relevant information which can then aid them to make an informed decision about the best course of action as well. From the logistical side, the team can also use the GCN platform to help our customers with non medical issues. So as an example, if someone loses a passport, we have all of the embassies listed within the GCN. If someone’s missed flights, we can connect them to an airline and any other travel related problem that may occur that doesn’t touch on that medical side as well. They can really use the platform to quickly identify and assist the customer with local service providers such as transportation providers, embassies and a language interpreter if needed. In both cases, the GCN provides our team with information and tools that they need to quickly and efficiently assist a customer in a wide range of situations. By leveraging our extensive network of quality providers and cutting edge technology. We can provide customers with the care and support that they need, when they need it most no matter where they are in the world.|
0:13:40 – 0:13:59
|Thanks Alerah. It was great to get to know a little bit more about the provider network and the importance of it. So earlier my one last question with the appointment of your new role as Chief Operating Officer, you’re actually about to embark on some major travel and and move yourself and your family to the UK. We’d love to ask our guests whether you have a top travel tip you can share with our listeners.|
0:14:00 – 0:14:38
|Yeah, sure. So I think this time the travel will be a little bit different. For me, I’m very accustomed to the loan business travel. However, with the move, I will be taking my beautiful two year old daughter and also my wonderful husband. So I guess I’ve got a couple of tips for traveling with toddlers. So one of them’s definitely packed plenty of snacks and drinks. Obviously they can get hungry and restless and thirsty very quickly. So it’s always a good idea to bring plenty of snacks and drinks to keep them satisfied. And the other one for me is obviously bring them a favourite toy or comfort or having that toy can help them feel obviously more secure and relaxed while traveling as well. And it’s a good idea to pack this in your carry on so it’s easily accessible.|
0:14:38 – 0:15:16
|Thanks Alerah It’s been great to talk with you and understand better the importance of a network that’s vetted to ensure that when you need it most as you say it can deliver that right care at the right time and at the right price. Looking for the Best Travel podcasts and to a spy your upcoming adventures will also help Thinking to travel smarter? Listen to navigate the top travel podcast answers how you explore the world found on our world travel protection.com Travel assist. In each episode, I will travel protection hosts geek with travel industries, experts and experienced everyday travellers to bring you thought provoking travel insights, experiences and advice, helping empower you to travel the world confidently.|
In this episode of NAVIGATE, we discuss the role provider networks plays in safe travel, and why having access to a vetted provider network is crucial for the success of any travel risk management team.
Our guest today is World Travel Protection’s newly appointed COO, Alerah Turner, who previously was our Director of Global Provider Networks and spent the last seven years building our provider network database.
Alerah covers a range of topics related to provider networks including what they are, why they’re important, and how they’re vetted. She also shares how the network team approaches specific assistance requests and what technology is available to support the team and travellers in ensuring the right care, at the right time, and for the price price.
Learn more about World Travel Protection’s in-house provider network, Global Care Network, here.
Subscribe to the NAVIGATE travel podcast
Are you interested in safe travel and mitigating risks? Catch the latest episode of travel podcast NAVIGATE from World Travel Protection by subscribing or following on your preferred podcast platform.
Helping you navigate travel beyond our travel podcast
If you subscribed to NAVIGATE for business and leisure travel tips, contact our medical and security experts at World Travel Protection for more resources to help keep you and your travellers safe.
To find out more from our team of professionals – and demo our Travel Risk Management Tools – contact us via the form below.