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Medshield Principal Officer Kevin Aron has brought his special kind of leadership to the table, and after a year in this position, his impact is plain for all to see.

Kevin Aron is celebrating one year as Principal Officer at Medshield Medical Scheme fundamentally shifting the ways in which the Scheme engages with customer relationships to realize customer satisfaction and business growth. His unique leadership style focuses on mobilising others to execute strategy and deliver results to create value for Medshield members over a lifetime. To do this effectively he centers his leadership on improving systems, processes, capabilities, individual mindsets and ultimately culture.

Since Medshield is a self-administered medical scheme, Aron’s responsibilities as the Principal Officer follow a slightly different model from those of a medical scheme that a third-party administers. Kevin, a qualified Chartered Accountant, is indirectly responsible for over 250 staff members and leads a team of seven executives and four managers.

A key responsibility that falls under Aron’s remit is to ensure that the Scheme conducts its affairs in line with the provisions of the Medical Schemes Act, as it is a not-for-profit entity that looks after members’ funds. Other responsibilities include ensuring the delivery of exceptional service to its members and achieving the strategy and strategic direction mandated by the Board of Trustees.

A medical scheme exists essentially to fund the healthcare needs of its members should they experience a catastrophic healthcare event, and as such, the Principal Officer is integrally involved in the development of the benefits and design of the various plan options.

Having spent more than 25 years working within the healthcare sector, Aron has brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the role. Since becoming Medshield’s Principal Officer, Aron has been working diligently to impart his knowledge and experience to his team and at the same time, his client-centric approach has ensured that everything he does is centred on the members of the Scheme. Aron adds: ”I have spent most of my career delivering services to medical schemes, so I understand the frustrations members sometimes feel when their healthcare claims are unpaid. I am passionate about customer service and am working hard with the Operations team at Medshield to enhance customer service, especially in Complaints Management.

”In addition, a key focus is to lead the team and guide them, towards establishing a high-performance culture where only exceptional service is tolerated. At the age of 55, with so many years’ experience in healthcare, I see a key part of my role as a teacher and mentor to the future stars in the business.”

Strategic goals

The medical scheme market has hit a stagnant period over the past five years due to several factors, such as the lack of growth in the industry in terms of job creation, regulatory impediments such as the Prescribed Minimum Benefits rules which significantly contribute to the high cost of medical aid premiums, and the growing number of health insurance plans which compete with medical schemes on an uneven playing field. Notwithstanding these challenges, Aron says that Medshield’s key strategic goal is to grow its membership base with predominantly young and healthy individuals, who will become part of the Medshield family and hopefully stay with them for many years to come.

”Another key goal is to secure the Scheme’s sustainability by balancing competitive benefit design and pricing, with sufficient reserves to buffer the Scheme against exceptional circumstances such as the pandemic we recently experienced. Finally, as I have alluded to earlier, customer service and exceeding the expectations of our members is another key strategic objective,” Aron adds.

On a personal level, Aron’s passion for healthcare in South Africa keeps pulling him back to one key factor: trying to reduce the cost of healthcare without compromising on the quality of the care. As we all know, medical aid contributions are high, and for many people, they are unaffordable, so Aron believes Medshield needs to be innovative to make it work. He explains: ”We need to find new ways of reimbursing healthcare providers and hospitals, where an element of the risk of the procedure is transferred from the medical scheme to the healthcare provider. This is largely termed ‘Value Based Healthcare’ where providers are paid for healthcare outcomes, not just the activity. I also believe a review of the current PMB legislation is needed—which is long overdue—and the introduction of Low-Cost Benefit Options which would allow medical schemes to compete with health insurance products on an equal playing field.”

These initiatives, Aron believes, would play a role in reducing the cost of medical scheme contributions. ”I am also very excited to be leading an exceptional team of executives and managers who are completely committed to our Vision of ‘Partnering with You towards your personal healthcare and wellbeing’,” the University of the Witwatersrand graduate adds.

An ethical leader

With a plethora of leadership experience to draw from, Aron admits that his leadership style has, just like wine, improved with age. Key to this has been his commitment to improving his ability as a leader to listen to his team while at the same time asking relevant questions that ultimately provide a solution to the challenge.

”I have also become more analytical in my approach to solving problems, recognising that the analysis and interpretation of data often tell a story that makes a lot of sense. I am very passionate as a leader, and I try to inspire the team to perform beyond their expectations. I always try to lead by example. I believe that a leadership style focused on outcomes and holding people accountable for their contracted deliverables is necessary to ensure success,” Aron, who started his career with South African Druggists, explains.

In today’s business world, leadership ethics as a tool of good governance is an increasingly important element and point of discussion. For Aron, ethical leadership is a non-negotiable that staff observe from those leading them. Therefore, adherence to policies, regulations, and standard operating procedures is imperative, as without doing so the organisation will fall into disarray and ultimately fail.

”This can be seen in many examples in the medical scheme industry, where poor governance and ethics have led to the demise of the medical scheme. A medical scheme can only perform the services of a medical scheme as defined in the Medical Schemes Act–a detailed Act that sets out the duties and governance requirements of a medical scheme. Thus, strong governance and adherence to all the regulatory requirements are imperative and of highest priority,” Aron adds.

At Medshield, the Board of Trustees and the Executive have worked tirelessly to establish and implement policies, procedures, and governance structures. These ensure that Medshield always complies with the highest levels of governance. An essential function of Aron’s role as Principal Officer is to monitor the governance framework and ensure adherence to policies and the Act.

Leaving a legacy

Although he achieved great success throughout his career, Aron admits that he has always wanted to leave a legacy where people who have worked with him say, ”Kevin made a difference to me as a leader in terms of ethical behaviour and sound commercial decision-making.”

This, he admits, is an aspiration which has not changed and one day, when his term as Principal Officer at Medshield ends, this will be his legacy.

The former CEO of Medscheme concludes: ”I would like to be remembered as a leader who lived the Medshield values, provided coaching and good decision-making advice to the staff, achieved the strategic objectives as set out by the Board of Trustees, and, most importantly, be seen as a nice guy who was firm but fair, demanding but compassionate. That would be my ideal legacy.”

And we look forward to following your journey to achieving just that.

By Editor