About Soraia Lynch
Soraia Arroyo Lynch, MBA is Vice President of Marketing, GMMI, Inc. & GGA Travel Assistance. Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, she is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English. With over 20 years in the medical cost containment industry and having worked for GMMI in many capacities from Account Management, Product Development, Business Development, to VP of Marketing, she has established herself as an expert in medical cost containment and assistance. Soraia is responsible for managing the GMMI brand of cost containment, travel assistance solutions and superior customer service across all marketing channels. Her hands-on experience is backed by a solid business education: A Bachelor of Arts in International Business from Loras College, and an MBA from Nova Southeastern University.
GMMI is a leading ISO 9001:2015 & ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified provider of medical cost containment, travel assistance and medical risk management solutions. Since our inception in 1992, we have been setting the industry standard for quality customer service, medical management, and competent claims administration worldwide. By applying leading technologies and a consultative approach, we work efficiently and effectively to deliver high value added services that provide our Clients with global solutions for managing medical cases and containing medical costs. For more information, visit https://www.gmmi.com.
Commitment – Integrity – Client Focus – Customer Care
Medical Travel Today (MTT): Why is your unique medical travel business model so important for payers – and their members?
Soraia Lynch (SL): In the context of medical travel, a large part of what we do is to manage medical cases through the entire episode of care – often from the facility & physician referral process, during the care (i.e. via complete evidence-based medical case management), discharge planning, all the way through post-care, which could mean helping patients get home safely and with the care and/or meds they will need upon arrival to their home.
GMMI is positioned to help our clients with all their medical cost containment and travel assistance needs: from sickness to health, distress to relief, Anytime. Anywhere.
MTT: Who do you manage it for? Do you go directly to the consumers?
SL:The patients benefit from our services. However, we contract with and service the payer, such as an insurance company, government entity or an assistance company when it comes to travel policies. As for travel for treatments, we work with insurance companies as well as government entities that insure patients who have a medical travel option, whether it’s for international or domestic travel.
Many of the Travel for Treatment cases we manage involve patients who leave their home country seeking care. They will do so often because they don’t have the services available locally, or they are seeking a diagnosis, or perhaps a medical second opinion that validates the diagnosis or treatment plan identified in the home country.
MTT: Where are these patients traveling from?
SL: Many patients seeking Travel for Treatment come from the Caribbean, parts of Latin America, the Middle East, to name a few places. It depends on what kind of benefits and insurance policies are available in their home market whether they choose the U.S. as their travel for treatment destination. If they are coming from Mexico, for example, we know they typically have major medical policies with rich medical benefits. But they could be from anywhere. We also get quite a bit of influx from the Middle East because they also typically have ample coverage and rich benefits that cover medical travel.
MTT: Do they also come from Europe? Africa? Central America?
SL: In Europe, insured patients tend to have generous medical benefits that allow them to travel abroad and come to the United States for care. However, since the level of care in most European countries is very sophisticated, for these patients it’s less about need and more about choice for care. In Latin America, there’s quite a bit of self-pay patients who leave their countries to seek care in the United States. But we only manage cases of patients who have insurance, whether it’s private or government-funded. We don’t facilitate services directly to a patient because that is not our business model.
We do speak over 25 languages, so when we have a patient from the Middle East or elsewhere, generally we speak their language and manage their care with cultural sensitivity.
MTT: What are some of the typical procedures that prompt people to travel for treatment?
SL:Usually, it’s for different kinds of cancer treatments and pathologies, organ and tissue transplants, orthopedic procedures, highly specialized pediatric care, medical second opinions, as well as to validate the treatment they are getting in their home countries. It all depends upon where the patient resides since some don’t have access to a certain level of care or subspecialty.
For example, when we manage cases from the Caribbean or smaller countries, often those are cases of patients with a rare kind of condition, conditions for which sometimes there is no specialty or subspecialty available for them at home. We also manage organ and tissue transplants for patients who come to the USA from all over the world.
We also notice that patients may travel abroad as a last resort when available therapies in the home country have failed. That may mean that they might travel to participate in clinical trials at research centers in the United States., which GMMI facilitates the care when it is covered by their insurance.
MTT: Are your clients (insurance companies, assistance companies, etc.) also accessing care for children?
SL: Yes, absolutely. We manage all sorts of pediatric care – genetic conditions, cancer pathologies, transplants, and so on.
MTT: How do they hear about you?
SL: Our clients know about GMMI mostly due to our long-lasting presence as a leading cost containment and travel assistance company. We’ve been doing this for over 26 years. In fact, we were the first company to offer the cost containment assistance services to the international payer. For payers, the reason they would choose GMMI is because of our record of managing care and containing the cost of care. When our founder had the vision to offer cost containment services to international payers, nobody else was doing it. I also believe clients choose GMMI for the culture- and reputation- as a Care Company.
MTT: Are these people concerned at all about cost?
Every time we visit a client we explain to them why healthcare in the United States is expensive to access. This amount of money spent here, even if their exposure is not that high, tends to be disproportionately higher than anywhere else. We help our clients mitigate the costs associated with care outside of the home country. So, what we do becomes even more relevant. Besides traditional medical expenses – facility, doctors, etc. – one of the puzzle pieces contributing to medical expenses is specialty drugs, which we manage for our clients. Many patients depend upon certain drugs that are difficult to access because they are new on the market, high cost drugs, etc. We help clients get those treatments and new therapies at a lower price.
MTT: Do you agree that the United States still has a reputation for being one of the best places in the world to access high quality medical care?
SL: Absolutely. Not only the best but most innovative.
More people are coming here for new and complex therapies that are available in the US For example, in the case of transplants, the United States is still one of the few countries in the world that allows non-residents to be on a waiting list for bone marrow or a solid organ. Patients come here to validate their home country diagnosis or treatment plans. They may also travel here when all other options for care have failed (and they may choose to participate in US Clinical Trials).
MTT: Do you see the medical travel industry growing?
SL:Yes. Even with other challenges in U.S. healthcare, we don’t see any decrease in international patients coming here for care. Companies come to GMMI because they seek our expertise in managing their patient cases while mitigating the high costs associated with these treatments. GMMI’s services also help our clients’ patients navigate the complexities of accessing care outside of the home country. With every case we manage, every family we touch with our services, we have an opportunity to support patients in their most vulnerable of times, also helping enhance our client’s own reputation for service.