We spoke to Dr Fundile Nyati, Founder and CEO of Proactive Health Solutions to gain his insights into the benefits of PHS partnering with EAPA-SA as an Eduweek sponsor.
PHS was founded in 1999 to fill a gap in the health and wellness market as there were a number of issues but not much being done at employer level to manage health-related employee risks. At the time, life and health insurers were complaining about the high utilisation of benefits and a growing number of employers were complaining about issues such as high usage of sick leave – and as a country in transformation South Africa was facing the impact of HIV/AIDS. We looked at what could be done and were convinced that managing these risks through raising premiums was not the answer, but that it would be better to establish an entity who partnered with employers to lower the risks and deal with the issues at employee level. The result would not only be a lowering of premiums, but also that if issues were managed much earlier health insurers would have an improved claims experience– and for employees they would experience better health and wellbeing. The filling this gap by various entities has since created an all-round win for insurers, employers and employees. Our vision as a company is to ensure that PHS is the wellness company of choice in South Africa and the continent and a one-stop shop in matters of employee health and wellness. We are well established in serving the public sector, but to be a leader we must lead across all markets, so we are at the point at which we are working to establish a firm foothold in the private sector and in other direct to consumer-type markets.
“Across the four pillars of health and wellness EAPA-SA is the most developed industry body in South Africa.”
Q: What is the primary reason that PHS partners with EAPA-SA to sponsor Eduweek?
About five years ago we were looking at how we were going to diversify and ensure company growth, and we analysed the four pillars of employee health and wellness to find that the area of EAP was the one that had the most prospect of growth. It is the most in-demand service if one looks through the tenders published in the media and it is the most requested service by employers across all markets; and so we took a strategic decision to invest heavily in the area of EAP, and importantly, also in growing the cake. There has been stagnation in the growth of EAPs in South Africa – that is the number of employers who are prepared to invest money in EAPs is not growing. There is a lot of lip service paid by employers but if you look at their budgets the commitment is not really there, so while we are investing internally to improve our capacity we also need to work with an industry body that is driving growth and development EAP in South Africa. This industry body is EAPA-SA. Across the four pillars of health and wellness EAPA-SA is the most developed industry body in South Africa. It is the only association that holds an annual Eduweek, bringing various industry stakeholders together; and so our annual sponsorship of Eduweek over the past five years has been a part of our commitment to saying, “Let’s help to grow this space”.
Q: How do you feel that Eduweek benefits the EAP industry in South Africa – and beyond?
We believe that together we must have a vision to take this industry to a much higher level. Looking back over the years, there has been a lot of growth – and EAPA-SA has received a lot of recognition in recent years particularly in terms of Eduweek as an award winning, pan African industry gathering. We appreciate the way the Association is stimulating growth into the continent of Africa. Many of the large companies who are significant users of EAP have a strong presence on the continent and so it would be would be rather short-sighted for us to just focus on just the South African market and not understand that these big EAP consumers have continental reach.
“Looking back over the years, there has been a lot of growth.”
Chapter 10 of the National Development Plan 2030 is about promoting good health, more than just providing quality of health care for all. Therefore, every player within the health industry has to understand that above our narrow interests we have to bring our part in ensuring that by 2030 ‘quality health care for all’ is a reality for all South and to look at how we as the industry come up with tangible solutions, not just to make money, but to partner with NPOs and NGO’s who are looking at underserved markets. The EAP is currently a niche market, a privileged market, but the need for psycho-social services in South Africa is much greater, beyond employed individuals. The health and wellness industry talks about health holistically, and across all the components of health care there must be quality of service delivery. In a country like South Africa that spends less than 5 percent of its health budget on mental health services – and where mental health services are generally rudimentary across all provinces – what are we as members of EAPA-SA doing to ensure that South Africa is capacitated so that by 2030 there can be quality psycho-social health for all? Eduweek and its presenters can play a part in bringing increased consciousness about these bigger issues right now, which is how it can contribute to ensuring we reach the NDP 2030’s goals of quality health care for all. The outcome would be assisting greater numbers of people through increased capacity in relieving mental health care challenges for all South Africans.
“Eduweek allows me to keep abreast of what is happening in the industry.“
Q: What key information are you taking away from Eduweek 2019?
It was good to see how some of the leading edge tools and issues affecting EAP practice that I brought to light in my presentation at Eduweek 2017 have since been embraced by the various industry players. For example, technology is now being more comprehensively deployed in EAP. I learned how EAP in South Africa is no longer just limited to psycho-social intervention, which is gratifying because when you are running a wellness programme within an organisation issues are not limited emotional concerns – there are also those that include physical incapacity and disability. It was also good to see that there is an effort to bring in international expertise, and also, our brothers and sisters from across the continent have a lot that they bring as well. So, for me the learnings are that there is a lot that is happening. Many players are looking at innovating and as CEO of PHS – a company who espouses innovation – Eduweek allows me to keep abreast of what is happening in the industry.
Proactive Health Solutions
PHS is a leading health and wellness solutions provider in South Africa that was founded in 1999. Over the years we have grown into an established “one-stop-shop” and preferred integrated health and wellness service provider with a comprehensive national footprint and ever growing continental presence. Our service delivery is based on a hybrid model that makes optimal use of internal resources augmented by strategic business partnerships. PHS has established operations in all nine South African provinces, with a total staff complement of 140 employees, mainly specialised in health care and business consulting and support skills.