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IHC newsletter, issue 22, July 2017

Editor’s letter

Welcome to IHC’s summer newsletter.

It’s been another busy six months here at IHC, working with clients to support the health and wellbeing of their employees across the UK and internationally. In this latest issue, we keep you updated on the ever-changing and evolving health and wellbeing market, whether it’s the latest research into mental health at work, the launch of new products or apps or the impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into force new year.

This year, we celebrate 25 years in the business. It’s been a great opportunity to reflect on how much the market has changed over the last two and half decades and what it is that makes IHC stand out in our approach and the way we support our clients. As part of the celebrations, we’d love to hear your views and there are some bottles of vintage champagne up for grabs in the process!

You can also read about Asos, the global fashion destination for 20-somethings and how IHC is helping them to maximise their investment in health and wellbeing. It’s no surprise that the company was recently named as one of the UK’s top companies for 2017 and the employer that most people wanted to work for.

A round up of the news over the past six months offers a reminder that at IHC and across the industry, things are moving fast, new services and products are being launched and more is being done to ensure that employers and their staff are getting the best benefits at the right price. A competitive industry means you may have a lot of decisions to make. We want to be there to guide you through them.

We hope you will find our news letter interesting and informative, and as ever we welcome any feedback you may have.

Paul Roberts

Industry news

Number of UK centres for proton beam therapy is growing

A less invasive and less damaging cancer treatment is coming to the market.

Proton beam therapy uses a high-energy beam of protons rather than x-rays to delivery radiotherapy for patients. Importantly, and unlike conventional radiotherapy, in proton beam therapy the beam of protons stops once it ‘hits’ the cancerous cells.

This means that it is particularly useful for treating types of cancer in critical areas where it is important to minimise damage to the surrounding tissue, such as brain tumours in young children whose brains are still developing. It has also been used to treat adult cancers when the cancer has developed where the cancer might cause serious complications, such as the optic nerve.

Reports suggest that these types of cancer make up a small proportion of all cancer diagnoses, with Cancer Research UK estimating that only one in 100 people with cancer would be suitable for proton beam therapy.

For a number of years, NHS patients have been required to travel abroad to access this type of therapy – around 400 patients, mostly children, have travelled for treatment since 2008 – but new proton beam centres are being built, with one in London and one in Manchester which is expected to open in 2018.

Alongside the emergence of NHS proton beam centres, a number of private proton beam centres are opening across the UK. Proton Partners International run oncology centres – known as The Rutherford Cancer Centres – that offer a range of cancer treatments to patients, including high energy proton beam therapy. With centres opening in the next few years in Wales, Northumberland and the Thames Valley, access to this innovative form of cancer treatment is set to grow.

Click here to hear Professor Gordon McView, chairman of Proton Partners International provide an update on the Rutherford Cancer Centre being built in Newport in Wales where the 55-ton cyclotron ProteusONE proton beam is in the process of being installed.

New health apps hit the market

With more than 146,000 health apps to choose from, there is certainly something to suit everyone. And adding to the choice are new health apps from AXA-PPP Healthcare and Aviva, joining established offerings from Vitality and Bupa Boost.

Health apps have proven themselves to be very valuable to employees, making a vast selection of information, health and advice available to individuals and the touch of a button, every hour of the day. They can help to improve health and engagement because of the options to personalise much of the content and often, as in the case of the Aviva app, the information is on hand to all insured and non-insured employees.

So, there’s no time like the present to check out what’s on offer and make sure that you’re doing everything you can to make these health and wellbeing tools available to your people.

New General Data Protection Regulations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25 May 2018 and is designed to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union. The regulation addresses the export of personal data outside the UK and is intended to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data.

The new principles of data protection under GDPR require that organisations integrate privacy requirements in the design of new products and services and that they process the minimum amount of personal data necessary to achieve a specific purpose. And companies whose core activity includes regular and systematic collection of personal data on a large scale, as well as organisations that handle sensitive data and public authorities, are required to hire a data protection officer.

Should things go wrong when it comes to data handling, organisations have 72 hours to communicate a data breach to the relevant authorities. And if they do break the law, companies may have to pay up to 4% of their global revenue or €20 million, whichever is greater.

To meet the requirements of GDPR, IHC has already begun the process of auditing all areas of the business where data is processed to enable us to identify any areas we need to change or improve. Where necessary we will reissue contracts and revise the way we work with providers and any other data processors that we work with. We will also invest in additional training to support the implementation of the new regulations, as required, and will keep you posted on our progress to be fully compliant before the changes come in next year.

Shocking rise in workers being treated for mental health

The number of employees who are seeking treatment for mental health issues has increased by more than 50% in the last ten years, according to a new report from Bupa.

The study shows that treatment for stress and anxiety has more than doubled to just under 70,000 in the last decade – not surprising when 44% of employees reported the world around them had become more stressful and complex over this time.

Importantly, alongside this growth in mental health issues, over one-third (35%) of employees said they felt more comfortable talking to their line managers about their mental health and a similar number (36%) said that attitudes towards mental health in the workplace have improved.

“These findings are in line with employers investing more in formal line manager training on mental health issues,” commented IHC’s Paul Roberts. Around half (47%) of line managers questioned by Bupa said they had received this type of training.

Editorial 1 – Celebrating 25 years of IHC

This year, IHC is proud to celebrate 25 years in the business. Established in 1992, with a vision to provide ‘best in class’ advice and support on employee health and wellbeing, IHC has grown to become the largest independent specialist advisor in this area.

Founder, Nick Lipczynski set up the business in 1992 looking to address the needs and concerns of a growing number of employers who were unhappy with the advice they were getting and the premiums they were paying for private medical insurance. “Our first clients were looking to get a much better overview of the health insurance market and access to the best commercial terms available,” explains Nick. “There was also increasing responsibility on companies to ensure that their healthcare benefits worked together and so we saw an opportunity to move insurances such as life and income protection away from pensions and under a wider health and wellbeing banner for clients.”

While the industry has moved on a lot since then, IHC’s focus on independence, honesty and values has remained the same. Over the last 25 years, there is no doubt that employee wellbeing has moved up to the top of the HR agenda and is now understood to be a business critical issue. However, as IHC consultant, Gemma Milford points out: “What one company understands and perceives wellbeing to be can vary vastly to another’s, which is why the ‘one size fits all’ approach has never been part of IHC’s ethos.”

“Perceptions and experiences of work have changed considerably over the past 25 years. The challenges and pressures on businesses today means that a strategic focus on wellbeing is more essential than ever,” explains consultant, Paul Roberts, who has been with IHC from the start.

“While the need for private healthcare cover and insurance protection hasn’t changed, it has grown to become an integral and expected part of reward for all employees. At the same time, healthcare insurance has become increasingly complex with the transfer criteria making it more difficult than ever to get the best deal without specialist knowledge and advice,” says Paul.

The healthcare landscape has also expanded to include virtual GPs, health screening, cancer prevention checks, treatment pathways, total benefits statements, so a combined approach to all benefits is needed to ensure that best value for spend is achieved in both the policies employers choose and also the advice they seek.

From the very beginning, IHC specialised in health insurance and employee wellbeing. “We didn’t want to get involved in pensions or investments because this would compromise our independence and analytical ability,” explains Nick. IHC has always stayed true to this and is now known and recognised by clients as a healthcare boutique providing in-depth expert knowledge and high level advice in this niche area. “Being specialist and independent also means we can work well alongside other providers and continue to get the best deals for our clients,” adds Nick.

From the outset, Nick’s ambition was to grow IHC organically with a quality, advice-led offering delivered by talented consultants. “Our people are the lynchpin of this business and it is their relentless focus on providing the very best, up-to-date advice and in developing long term personal relationships with clients that has enabled us to fulfil this ambition,” he explains.

It’s clearly a formula that works, with the company seeing a steady and consistent growth in its client base. Today, IHC works with more than 500 clients across a wide range of employee health and wellbeing issues.

Simon Cook, group HR senior manager and head of UK HR at Marubeni Europe has worked with IHC for over 10 years and brought them with him when he moved into a new role with Marubeni last year. “I wouldn’t work with anyone else in the future,” he says. “Over the years, I have personally learned a lot from IHC, they have really helped to make a complex area more bearable! Not only do they genuinely go the extra mile, they are able to leverage their relationships with the big insurers to get a good deal and have saved the companies I have worked with 10s of £1000s on premiums over the years.”

IHC has also continually evolved to meet client needs. In 1997, the business launched the international offering led by David Heppard. “Many of our UK domestic corporate clients had international schemes for their expat employees but were crying out for a specialist broker to advise them on these and broker the market,” he explains. “There was a severe lack of expertise in this area with many companies not really knowing whether their premiums were competitive or whether they had another choice. IHC saw the opportunity to offer this service and add value to its existing clients.”

After getting some major blue chip companies on board in the early years, the international division developed a reputation for being one of the top independent specialists in this field. Today, IHC’s international team supports clients across a range of sectors from venture capitalists to charities. “As a small and dynamic team, we can respond to our clients’ needs and requirements quicker than a larger composite insurer and the bureaucracy that goes with that. We also see the big picture as well as the micro detail. For example, we can provide specialist advice on what impact a client’s acquisition will have on their international benefits and how that affects their current arrangements. Over the years, we have also developed strong client relationships and many of our clients are now friends as well,” says David.

Developing long term client relationships is something that IHC is extremely proud of. Many of IHC’s consultants have been with the company since the beginning and there is a real family feel to the business. Ahead of its time, IHC has always maintained a flat hierarchy, where the emphasis is on employee ownership and outputs. “It is important that everyone owns their client relationships and that our consultants have the freedom and autonomy to get on and do the job. It’s also about keeping it personal,” says Nick. “We’ve seen a lot of change since we started out in this industry, particularly the impact of the internet and social media but when it comes to dealing with clients, technology simply cannot replace individual, professional and personal contact.”

IHC individual consultant, Salim Gani agrees. “Face to face relationships are so important in building trust and accountability.” Similarly Gemma Milford, who leads IHC’s offshore team in the Channel Islands, says: “We take the time to learn about each of our clients as individuals and never assume that two clients are the same. We really value our relationships and work hard at them which in turn means that our clients feel safe and supported by us.”

Marubeni’s Simon Cook agrees: “It is clear when working with IHC that the consultants love their jobs and are great at what they do and this translates into great relationships with customers,” says.

As a people business, the human side of establishing and building relationships and what it can achieve is now being taken a step further as IHC is bringing the next generation of consultants into the business. “We operate very much like a family business and it’s been great to see the dependents of some of our consultants now joining the business and learning the ropes. They bring a fresh approach to the way we work while our experienced consultants can pass on their specialist knowledge and ensure IHC continues to uphold our traditional values and the importance of strong client relationships as we move forward into the future,” says Nick.

IHC consultant, Sharukh Gani, joined the company last year and is keen to follow in his father’s footsteps. “I am very self-motivated and IHC gives me flexibility and the ability to grow and spread my wings. I’m looking forward to bringing new ideas to IHC and working with the team to simplify processes to improve efficiencies in our service.”

Looking ahead to the future and the changing trends in wellbeing, IHC is seeing an increasing focus on employee health and performance. “Building mental resilience and motivational wellbeing is going to be the next big challenge for employers over the next 5-10 years,” says Nick. We are already working very closely with a partner company, Working Well, to ensure that IHC is in the best position to support clients with this.”

IHC would like to thank all of our clients for their support and friendship over the last 25 years. We look forward to continuing to work together and to passing those relationships onto the next generation!

We’d love to get your feedback as part of our 25 year celebrations. Tell us, in 50 words or less, why your IHC consultant stands out for you. The first five responses received will each receive a bottle of vintage champagne! Email:

Editorial 2 – Client in focus: Asos – the global fashion destination for 20-somethings – was recently named one of the UK’s top companies for 2017 in a ranking compiled by LinkedIn, listing the employers that employees most want to work for.

“IHC has worked with Asos since 2012 and was very proud to see them at the top of this ranking; it’s testament to the investment they have made in their people and their health and wellbeing,” said IHC consultant, Paul Roberts.

Asos is a very fast growing tech company that despite having high levels of recruitment, is under pressure to retain good people with good benefits. The company’s contact centre employs 600 people and nearly 1500 are based in London.

“We needed to captivate the workforce’s attention and offer good value on products that ‘pop’. Initially we worked with Asos to support the negotiation of their benefits offering, helping them to generate better value from the benefits they had on offer. This evolved to helping them find a mix of products and services that would better suit their workforce, building an assortment of products that would fit their funky and cool workforce!

“The work we have undertaken together has ensured that benefits, reward and engagement are intertwined at Asos. Generating take-up of benefits is intrinsic to the programme of engagement and understanding the value of the benefits package so more recently we have changed Asos’ flexible benefits platform to increase engagement. Here it was vital to re-write the copy and improve the look and feel of the platform, as well as ensuring that it remains fresh and engaging.

“We have also made sure there is the opportunity for employees – or ‘Asosers’ as they call themselves – to share their views, especially when they think something can be improved. Embedding this interaction within the programme is key for people to understand insurance and benefits and the value they offer,” said Paul.

Health screening was recently made available to ‘Asosers’ and can be undertaken at multiple locations at the low-cost entry point of just £7 per month. Other recently introduced solutions include gadget insurance that covers up to five tech gadgets at home, as well as travel cover that suits the active lifestyle of younger travellers, covering snow sports and independent travellers for example.

The benefits on offer are certainly making an impact: hundreds of people use the medical insurance policy each year to get back to work faster and in one case the employee was treated in London for a serious condition at the best facility in the world.

“It’s been great working with the Asos HR team; they’re decisive, challenging and very driven. They clearly want to do the best for their people and they know what they like!

“Looking ahead, wellbeing remains a top priority for Asos and as the business grows this is not set to change. We’ll be doing a clean sheet review of all benefits this year to check effectiveness and discuss what we can do to improve take-up still further. A sustained focus like this and a commitment to their people is set to keep them at the top of UK company rankings for many years to come,” he said.

A review of the past six months

In this section, we take a look at some of the stories we at IHC have covered over the past six months. It has been a busy time for the industry, with plenty to discuss, and here we round-up articles on some of the key issues affecting our industry.

For many employers, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) really are a pain in the neck
According to the Health & Safety Executive, more than 9.5 million working days are lost every year as a result of these disorders. And alongside the impact that MSDs can have on employee absence, its cost in terms of presenteeism is also high. So how what can employers do to help? Click here to view the full article

New report reveals health issues facing UK families today
A report published by Aviva aims to raise awareness of the key health issues facing families today. The Health Check UK Report investigates health habits among UK families, from snacking and dinner table trends, to family activities and wider attitudes to health. Click here to view the full article

The future of workplace health assessments
As more companies are recognising the importance of investing in the wellbeing and resilience of their employees, a London based health tech start-up, LiveSmart, is engaging with employers and their people and delivering lasting health outcomes. Click here to view the full article

New wellbeing research
New wellbeing research sponsored by Generali UK underlines why it’s so important for employers to get a better understanding of workplace wellness. Click here to view the full article

Managing mental health in the workplace
Mental health has been hitting the headlines this year and as employers it’s an issue that we can’t and shouldn’t avoid. Yet according to research published by Unum in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, just one-third of employees who experienced mental health problems in the last five years felt supported by their line manager. Click here to view the full article

Accenture prioritises health and wellbeing with Bupa Boost
Read about how Accenture, the global professional services firm, with more than 13,000 employees in the UK and Ireland has confirmed its commitment to make the health and wellbeing of its people a priority and how it is aiming to be the most inclusive and diverse organisation in the world by 2020. Click here to view the full article

Inside IHC – IHC sponsors Dorset & Wilts RFC

As part of its 25 year anniversary celebrations, IHC recently agreed a three-year sponsorship deal with Dorset & Wiltshire Rugby Football Union. Here is IHC’s Alan Browne with the team, showing off the new kit!

IHC is keen to support sport and encourage team participation in the interests of developing a team ethos and wellbeing. IHC is also actively supporting Warlingham rugby club,” said MD, Nick Lipczynski.

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