MediCall creates a new services sector

Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on August 25, 2011

Toledo, Ohio is not known for its mean streets and gangs. But it has them. I learned that recently from Jeff Williams, the cofounder and president of MediCall. I’m not sure those mean streets had much lasting effect on the physically imposing Williams, who stands well over six feet, has the build of an American football tackle, and displays the visage of a man who is not used to being messed with.

But Williams has clearly been around the block, and survived. He’s more than survived, in fact. His stern bearing is belied by his understated humor, and the excitement in his voice when he speaks of his sailboat, his authentic Mexican food, and his Shih Tzu, Chiky—which accompanies him everywhere on weekends. (Disclosure: MediCall is a client of my firm, and Williams is my friend.)

Even on his boat. The gentle giant gently cradling his tiny, long-haired canine companion is a study in deep contrasts. And it reveals a personality that is not just resolute, but comfortable in his skin. Despite his industrial roots, Williams cooks authentic Mexican with relish, and entertains with undisguised enthusiasm. A somewhat frustrated gourmet chef, he also does marinades that infuse dreamlike gastronomic qualities on seafood and beef alike.

Originally a CIO-type, Williams never expected to wind up in the Philippines, or to become an entrepreneur. But when he was asked to help found MediCall in 2003, he was ready for a challenge. MediCall provides healthcare-related services to global clients. When founded, it was the only company of its kind. In the years since, it’s so institutionalized its sector that it is certified in two categories by healthcare services quality accreditation organization URAC.

MediCAll is the only company in the Philippines to receive such accreditation.

URAC is one of the fastest-growing independent healthcare accreditation agencies in the world. MediCall is certified for Workers Compensation Utilization Management (International) and Health Utilization Management (International). It was originally certified in 2008 and is currently undergoing its third certification. URAC was established in the 1980s to provide independent certification of professional processes and education and to establish quality measures for the entire healthcare industry.

According to Williams, MediCall is also the first healthcare services provider to receive URAC accreditation outside the United States, as well as in the Philippines. “We were the pilot project for international certifications,” he told me. Williams also submitted the company to International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE 3402) evaluation, another first for a Philippine location.

MediCall opened its first facility in Makati in 2004, and last year opened a second facility in Cebu. It employs nearly a thousand licensed registered nurses who provide medical management services.

Registered nurses and other medical professionals deliver an evolving suite of services, including medical workers’ compensation and pharmacy support services, primarily to clients in the United States. Williams told me his company pioneered the delivery of these services from the Philippines and characterizes them as complex, high-value services. From its inception, the company has almost exclusively hired highly paid Filipino medical professionals.

“From the beginning, we wanted to leverage Philippine nursing skills to help the US healthcare market,” said Williams.  “We saw an opportunity long before others for a highly intelligent, motivated workforce that we can work with to create a new healthcare services sector.” Williams said they chose the Philippines because “We were impressed with the impeccable work ethics of Filipinos,” as well as high educational levels.

The company started with only three Filipino medical professional staff.  Today, virtually the entire workforce is composed of nurses and doctors—with the exception of Williams and two cofounders.  Katheryne Gutierrez, MediCall vice president for clinical quality and compliance, was one of the company’s first hires. Starting as an entry-level nurse eight years ago, Gutierrez is one of a handful of senior executives. She credits MediCall’s supportive working environment for her development.

“We keep an open-door policy. It helps us strengthen the relationship between employees,” Gutierrez said, explaining that aside from offering regular training programs, MediCall endorses its Philippine-licensed nurses to the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), supports their continuing education, and subsidizes NCLEX fees. “Our employees are healthcare professionals. And they should always be treated that way,” Williams said.

“We were the first healthcare services company serving an international market in the Philippines to employ nurses, the first and so far the only one to receive independent international certification, and the first to provide above-average remuneration and differentials.

And we’re proud of that,” Williams said. As well he should be.

(Michael Alan Hamlin is the managing director of TeamAsia and a Manila-based author. His latest book is High Visibility: Transforming Your Personal and Professional Brand. Write him at mahamlin@teamasia.com and follow him on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.). Copyright © 2011 Michael Alan Hamlin. All Rights Reserved.)

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