The Banker turned Digital-Healthcare Professional

Noemi G. Azura, President & CEO, PhilCare

A banker for 24 years and having worked for international banks including Citi, American Express and Australia and New Zealand Bank, Noemi Azura leads PhilCare — engaging Filipinos with new age active lifestyle and complete healthcare advantages, leading to a life of security & relief.

A graduate from De La Salle University with a degree in Accounting and MBA from the University of the Philippines, Noemi enjoys feasting on her Lawyer husband’s Spanish and Italian fare, listening to music, and taking nature walks to recharge.  

As the President and CEO of Philcare for the past 3.5 years, she has been instrumental in building the organization to one of the largest and the fastest growing Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)  in the Philippines. With revenue of close to USD49 Million and membership base of more than 280,000, she is continuously looking at improving the reach & organizational growth through innovative digital methods & practices. Married for over 23 years, she is also a proud mother of a 22 year old daughter and a 19 year old son.

Noemi was recently conferred the Icons of Healthcare Singapore Award for Female Healthcare Professional of the year, in recognition to her contribution to providing access to new age digital healthcare facilities to the citizens.

PhilCare360, an initiative by the organization takes Health and Wellness to a whole new level by offering products and services that aim to give our clients the highest level of aid assistance. These products and services include; post-hospitalization patient care, medical and health seminars, on-demand physical examinations, empowered health support groups, convenient on-site laboratory operations, and an exciting set of wellness merchant partners.

Here are some more insights from the enthusiastic corporate leader, as shared with team ABT.

Who is your greatest inspiration and why?
There are three persons that I admire the most, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.   Not only are these three men considered masters and innovators in the fields of investing and technology, but more importantly, their determination to give back, in order to make other people’s lives better, is truly inspiring.  

What is that one milestone in your life that makes you happy?
There are many major life events that made me happy — getting married, giving birth, our first trip to Europe,   living in Melbourne with my family during an expat assignment, passing the CPA board exam, being promoted to Vice President and recently, the opportunity to lead Philcare.  I cannot single out only one experience that makes me happy.

Tell us about the initiatives at PhilCare that you are excited about
I am excited about initiatives that deliver PhilCare’s value proposition.  PhilCare’s value proposition includes a holistic approach to wellness through PhilCare360 and technology enabled customer experience.  

a)      PhilCare360 consists of programs promoting healthy lifestyle and disease management focused on self-care.     

b)      Technology enabled customer experience –  PhilCare’s services are delivered through a  combination of people and digital channels.   People channels include our team of Liaison Officers in key hospitals assisting members for admission or confinement,  our Quick Assist desks in major hospitals,  our  24 x 7 Contact Center manned by nurses and supported by a state of the art technology platform,  the finally, PhilCare owned clinics and worksite clinics supported by a competent medical team.  Our intense focus on the customer inspired us to pioneer innovation and transform customer experience through digital channels.   Our digital and social channels include PhilCare’s GoMobile,  NFC enabled approval system,  interactive portals,  E-Commerce and Facebook.  Digital channels promote Convenience and Speed of service delivery to our members.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman leader?
I am fortunate to have established my career in the Philippines at this time.  Our country is consistently in the top 10 most gender-equal nations since 2006.  According to the Gender Gap Report 2016 published by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines rank 7th among the world’s most gender-equal societies.  Women can thrive professionally and entrepreneurially in our country.  In addition, I worked with institutions like Philcare that promoted equal opportunity and gender equality in terms of career advancement.  Hence, my challenges are not unique to my gender.  I believe that the challenges faced by men and women leaders during this time are the same.

There are 2 challenges that I face during this digital age.  First, is the necessity to continuously innovate and adopt technology solutions that improve health outcomes and customer experiences.   Disruption is a real threat.   The second challenge is engaging with the millennial customers and the millennial workforce.  Their communication channels have shifted from voice to digital, including sms/text, social media, instant messaging and blogging.  It is important for businesses to embrace Omni-channel sales and service models to effectively engage with the millennials.      

If you could do one thing differently, what would that be?
I would live my life the same way.

What advice would you give to a younger self?
The advice I would give to my younger self is to learn and embrace healthy living as early as possible, don’t take life too seriously and learn to laugh at yourself,  welcome the experience  of failure , it is a better teacher than success.

What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?
I would like to see PhilCare as the leading brand that has significantly made an impact in terms of empowering its customers and the public in healthy living.    PhilCare will do this through continuous a) wellness information campaigns via its digital channels, b) worksite wellness events and forging alliances with wellness partners. 

In addition, PhilCare will continue to focus on the customer and deliver innovative and technology-enabled customer experience and improve the customer’s access to healthcare services.

PhilCare will also continue to carry out its mission to make health plans available and accessible to every Filipino.  The private health insurance market in the Philippines is an underserved segment. Currently, HMOs cover only approximately 5 million principal and dependent members in a population of more than 100 million. The health plans are largely through employer-sponsored programs.  Philhealth, the government health insurer, reported in its 2015 Stats and Charts report,  that there are 40 million principal and 53 million dependent members or a total of 93 million, being covered by Philhealth. Private health plans are intended to supplement the government’s health insurance.  

There exists a gap for private health plans in this market. Given the Philippine population’s strong digital profile,  with > 50%  internet , 50% social media and > 100% mobile penetration growing at a rapid pace,   E-Commerce will continue to be an important platform  for PhilCare to carry out its mission of making available, affordable health plans to every Filipino.