About Gitte Bach
Gitte Bach is President & CEO of New Frontier Group which was recently awarded the 2020 ITIJ Award for best worldwide Cost Containment/Claims Management Company of the year. Gitte has extensive experience in international insurance and assistance through her initial career at IHI Denmark. In 2002, she founded New Frontier Group, an independently owned and operated cost-containment, assistance, and telehealth organization. Since its inception, New Frontier Group has been a market disruptor and innovator in the U.S. Cost Containment Industry, being a pioneer that provides unparalleled Network Access and Performance Transparency (Onyx™ Online) to their clients worldwide. Gitte holds a B.A. in Economics from Copenhagen Business School and a B.A. in Languages from Aarhus School of Business.
About New Frontier Group
New Frontier Group unrivaled for their range of solutions in international healthcare management and unbeatable in their superior customer service. New Frontier Group serves as the front-line outsourcing partner and advocate for clients handling diverse healthcare travel portfolios. Visit https://newfrontiergroup.com
Medical Travel & Digital Health News (MTDHN): Can you tell the readers about New Frontier Group?
Gitte Bach (GB): We are located in California and offer our services to insurance, assistance, reinsurance and medical second opinion companies from all over the world.
We offer telemedicine, assistance, cost containment as well as case coordination via our 24/7 MEA center.
This support is especially helpful for our international clients that have customers who are living abroad, traveling abroad, or coming to the U.S specifically for medical treatment.
MTDHN: How did you get involved in this business?
GB: I started my career in 1990 with International Health Insurance, Denmark. I supported the company’s entry into Latin America, helped introduce our new 24/7/365 Alarm Centre and was then asked to build a department with cost containment focus to handle the company’s large medical insurance claims.
In 2002 I left Denmark and went to California, where I founded New Frontier Group. My idea was to bridge the gap between international patients that come from totally different healthcare systems who may become overwhelmed in the situation of facing a health issue in a different country.
MTDHN: Can you walk our readers through the process of using this service? For example, if a patient is traveling in Montana and has an accident, what happens?
GB: As a rule, the patient would call their insurance or assistance company in the first instance. They would then appoint New Frontier Group to act as an intermediary between the patient and the medical providers and to manage costs via NFG’s national networks or via direct negotiation.
We stay in continuous touch with the insurance/assistance company, obtaining updates on charges every 24 hours. We obtain and forward appropriate medical reports so doctors within the insurance companies are informed about treatment and discharge plans.
If requested, we may help coordinate discharge and onward transport before checking and settling all bills on behalf of our client.
MTDHN: If an American travels to Italy and experiences an injury or illness, what is the process?
GB: New Frontier Group is focused primarily on serving people in North America, and some areas in the Caribbean and Latin America.
However, we do have collaborative partners that we coordinate with to help look after the interests of any patient, anywhere in the world.
MTDHN: How does New Frontier Group select a hospital for a client?
GB: In an emergency situation,the local emergency services would take the patient to the nearest, most appropriate hospital. NFG would then liaise with that facility with regards to treatment plans and costs.
In a non-emergency situation, we can offer a choice of the most suitable providers based on a combination of required treatment, location, and network participation.
MTDHN: Approximately, how many patients do you manage annually?
GB: Prior to the COVID pandemic, we would typically handle hundreds of thousands of claims per annum on behalf of our clients. This obviously reduced significantly due to restrictions on international travel and only time will tell how quickly travel and the travel insurance market will recover. The industry and the policyholders are impatiently waiting for the US to open the borders for internationals.
MTDHN: Can you give us some examples of insurance companies that New Frontier Group works with?
GB: We are the appointed US cost containment partners of two of the largest international assistance organizations in the world – The Astrum Assistance Alliance and International Assistance Group, who between them look after millions of international travelers and expats.
We also support some of the largest US insurers who insure inbound travelers, IPMI’s, expatriates and international students.
Additionally, we partner with MediOrbis to deliver our NFGtelecare solution.
MTDHN: Can you tell us more about NFGtelecare?
We launched NFGtelecare just as the pandemic hit and the world went into lockdown. It was a godsend for many of our clients when access to traditional healthcare was neither safe, nor in many cases, available at all.
Now however, telemedicine is truly established and here to stay. It enhances the service proposition, encourages traveler interaction, and ultimately reduces costs.
I, as well as routine healthcare consultations, can arrange appointments with a specialist to discuss existing conditions or to get a second medical opinion. We can prescribe and deliver medication via our in-house pharmacy program, Onyx™Rx and if the physician feels that the patient would benefit from further tests or treatment, we can help direct them to a suitable facility nearby.
We need to realize that in this industry telecare is here to stay. Access to healthcare will never revert to how it was before. Telemedicine is now accepted by all of our clients.
MTDHN: Do you sell through brokers or intermediaries?
GB: We don’t sell products or services direct to the public. We are purely a B2B provider, although coincidentally some of clients are major brokers and intermediaries!
MTDHN: Can you talk more about how New Frontier Group helps international students studying in the United States?
GB: Working with students studying abroad is an area of our business that has grown significantly over the last three to four years.
Many international students stayed in the United States because they were anxious about not being able to return if they went home and visited their families, so we have been busy helping to meet their health and medical needs throughout the pandemic.
We provide assistance to international students in their native languages. In addition, we can keep track of their insurance claims and assure them access to urgent cares, doctors, emergency rooms, and telehealth services.
MTDHN: Do students studying abroad have greater utilization than others?
GB: In our experience,students studying abroad normally have smaller but more frequent claims (although occasionally we do see larger ones) such as minor infections or injuries.
MTDHN: Has COVID-19 impacted your business?
GB: Yes, when the borders were shut and international travelers were not able to come to the United States, our clients were impacted because no one was traveling.
However, now that things are opening and people are getting vaccinated, travel is increasing, and we are starting to receive more calls as well as claims.
MTDHN: What treatments are your clients traveling to the United States to receive?
GB: Patients typically travel to the US for expert second opinions or treatment on complex conditions, such as cardiac issues, oncology and organ transplants.
COVID-19 has delayed some people’s treatment plans. Now that travel is opening there could be an increase in people seeking treatment abroad.
Many of our clients already know where and when they want to receive treatment. We then take that information to research providers who:
- Practice the specialty the patient requires
- Accept the patient’s insurance
- Provide care in the timeframe indicated
- Ideally speak the same language as the patient.
MTDHN: How can readers join your network?
GB: We accept clients through their insurance companies, assistance companies, or re-insurance companies.
MTDHN: How does your company get compensated for services?
GB: We have a multitude of options depending on the services required.Some of our clients pay on an hourly basis as needed based on Case Coordination and Case Management, and others pay per member per month or for cost containment the remuneration is based on the savings created.
MTDHN: Where do you envision the next five years taking New Frontier Group?
GB: We are working on some very large projects to provide our clients additional services.
Our internal development team is working on opportunities to optimize our solutions and have been gathering client feedback to analyze what further services that our clients would appreciate.
MTDHN: What draws your clients to the United States?
GB: The United States offers so many opportunities for quality medical care. Many people also visit for business trips and vacations.
It is a very popular destination, so New Frontier Group is grateful to help travelers feel safe and secure while traveling, working, studying or seeking care in the USA.