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iPMI Global Speaks with Natalya Butakova, CEO, AP Companies Group

In this exclusive iPMI Global interview, Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Global, met with Natalya Butakova, CEO, AP Companies Group. They discussed 2023 in detail and looked at the achievements of AP Companies Group over the past year.

Please introduce yourself and background in the international medical cost containment market:

My Name is Natalya Butakova and I’m a CEO for AP Companies group. AP Companies is a leading cost containment and TPA company, working Internationally and bringing savings and access to fair priced healthcare services for our long-standing clients.

AP Companies is a well-established and highly experienced cost containment company. We operate across all continents and types of medical cases.

In the past 12 months, what has your business achieved in the international medical cost containment market?

In 2023 we have successfully concentrated our efforts on taking our cost containment services and capabilities to the next level of achievement and differentiation. Savings, approach to savings, results achieved – all naturally vary depending on the locations, healthcare system, level of involvement etc. But we have exceeded our expectations and despite high inflations rates in the healthcare industry we were able to overall achieve better savings and lower average claim cost for our clients in every geography compared to that in 2022.

How did you do it?

AP has been using different approaches and methods to achieve best results in cost containment and cost control. We have further improved our working conditions and discounts with our high-volume medical providers, refined our medical provider network and took a lead of steering members to pre-selected network, which would deliver high quality medical care at the most reasonable cost. Our medical team has been working closely with medical departments of insurance companies to find best medical solutions for a number of complicated cases. We have also implemented a strategy of “cost containment across the board” which in essence means that there is no minimum amount of claim at which cost containment protocol is being implemented, with a new strategy any claim would undergo cost containment protocol at AP, regardless of if it’s small or large.

Geographically speaking, where are the “hot” international medical cost containment markets currently?

Traditionally the US cost containment market remains one of the most complicated due to the complexity of healthcare system in the US and the way it’s being regulated AND remains one of the most important for payers due to the high cost of medical services. In addition, we have seen a big spike in cost containment requests and achievements in Latin American Countries. Ever changing geopolitical and economic situations poses additional challenges, and AP preforms constant monitoring of charges, pricing and quality of medical care in that region.

Looking at 2024, what do you have planned for the international medical cost containment market?

In 2024 AP Companies will continue its cost control and cost containment strategy, close monitories of “challenging” places and providers will remain a priority for us – to timely react to any changes and inform our clients to take relevant decisions. We will put more efforts into identifying key providers for the region, accumulating volumes with them and delivering the best healthcare services at the most reasonable price for our members and clients.

Since Covid-19, how has the international medical cost containment market changed?

Covid has changed a lot of things in healthcare systems and the way how medical services are delivered, priced, recommended and even requested by individuals. Telemedicine is here and to stay as an initial triage, as the only access to the medical care in remote areas, as a way for the hospitals to manage their costs by limiting the number of physical visits when it’s not essential and consultation/treatment can be provided online. Of cause the effect of telemedicine is not only positive in a 100% of times. Rather often the cost of telemed consultation with a doctor is not much (if at all) cheaper than face to face, but the quality might be not as high. At the same time, use of telemed as initial triage of patients or for the purpose of fulfilling the prescription, for example, is more efficient for both facility and the patient. I believe that industry will keep searching for the “right fit” and “extent” to which teleconsultations will be imbedded into practice, in order to serve the purpose and to drive the costs down.

What is the scope for the global international medical cost containment market?

When speaking about cost containment, the scope indeed is very large. It goes anywhere from traditionally getting some discounts or package price or special rates from high volume medical facility to finding the way for most cost-efficient medical supply to patients in remote locations, to the extent of using telemed instead of physical visit, to identifying “medical necessity” at the early stage of the case to divert the patient in the right direction to get the most appropriate and cost efficient medical care. The “right” approach would vary in each case, location, circumstances, but only comprehensive approach and robust network can bring best results. This is what we have built upon, and AP Companies capabilities globally, will continue to do so in 2024.

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