Israeli medical bureaucracy got you stuck? Here’s how to breakthrough

MedAssist is exactly as it sounds: the medical assistant you need in a country that has it all but sometimes makes it hard to access

 (photo credit: ALEXANDER DODIN)
(photo credit: ALEXANDER DODIN)

Almost anyone who lives in Israel knows how challenging it can be to navigate the country's excellent healthcare.

Daniel Koulikov and Alexander Charny want to help.
They are the founders of MedAssist, a streamlined organization that helps people access medical services quickly and efficiently.

Mr. Koulikov spoke to us and explained first why he and his partner decided to establish MedAssist’s unique medical service and its smooth operation:

Mr. Koulikov: “Technologically, Israel is at the forefront of world medicine. However, it suffers from a few problems, and it was the period of the Covid-19 pandemic that revealed several difficulties that exist between medical services and the people who require it.

There are three main problems that make it difficult for patients to access medical services: (1) The complex administration  – i.e, the bureaucracy; (2) the long waiting time for medical procedures; (3) the lack of communication among the various establishments, such as insurance companies, organizations that administer treatments, clinics, testing institutes.

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When an institute doesn’t talk to a clinic, or a hospital doesn’t communicate with an insurance company, the patient has to run between them, and there is no single uniform platform that enables information to be transferred efficiently and securely.

People with private health insurance need to fill forms. But the information is not easy to gather, especially when there are a few medical establishments involved. If the patient cannot for some reason take care of transferring the medical files in the correct way, this may cause delays and other difficulties. The problem is even more complicated when the patient is not an Israeli citizen or is a new immigrant who doesn’t speak Hebrew.

Five years ago, after we had worked in the private medical field and had set up medical departments in Israel and abroad, we decided to create something new - a platform that would enable anyone to have access to Israeli medical services quickly and efficiently: MedAssist.

We have built something that consists of technological tools, as well as a human approach and appropriate manpower. Anyone who requires any type of treatment simply has to contact MedAssist, and we will take the matter into our own hands. We accompany patients all the way, regardless of which company they are insured with or if they pay for the treatment out of pocket. We work with insurance companies from Israel and abroad. And we can usually solve any medical problem, be it a test or treatment, within 72 hours.

Photo credit: Alexander DodinPhoto credit: Alexander Dodin

 Here is an example. A man who had been in Israel for several months for work had a car accident. He called his insurance company abroad and was told that he had to take care of being flown home on his own. But the patient was hospitalized and was not mobile. He contacted us, and we took care of everything. We took care of the financing from the insurance company, filled out all the paperwork in English, and translated the medical documents. We also helped his family members, which included coordinating their arrival from abroad and meeting them at the airport.

Another case involved a 35-year-old Israeli career woman who discovered a lump in her breast. She was under a lot of stress and tried to coordinate between the private doctor and the testing institutes. Her friends and family knew how difficult it was for her, but they couldn’t undertake doing the paperwork, transferring documents from place to place, and coordinating appointments for treatments and tests.

That’s where we come in. We take the issue into our own hands. We have a lot of experience and expertise. We know the forms and how to translate them when needed. We know the insurance companies, how to collect documents, and where to transfer them. And we do all this behind the scenes quickly and efficiently, without involving the patients. They simply receive the results. They receive the name of the doctor, the name of the tests, and the times of the appointments. And we accompany them throughout the process.

Here is another example. A man from South Africa had come to Israel to work for a hi-tech company. He suddenly suffered a back problem and needed an MRI. This is an expensive test. He was asked to do the test, pay for it, go to an orthopedist with the results, and send them to his insurance company. When he called the institutes to make an appointment for an examination, he realized that he would have to pay several thousand shekels on the spot. He contacted the insurance company and asked for some quotes. Now, getting a quote from a hospital is difficult enough, and getting a translated quote is even harder. The patient has to approach the department secretary or the institute secretary. He requires a quote in English to send to the insurance company, but they can’t give it to him. The bureaucratic process can take weeks. So the patient contacted us, and we took care of everything.

We don’t leave an issue until we solve it completely, starting from filling and receiving all the needed documents like a guarantee of payment (GOP) from a insurance company and more, the payment for the patient to the relevant medical facility, accompany the patient to the treatment itself and informing all relevant parties at every stage. We cover each case from all possible angles.

Sometimes it is simply a matter of knowing where to transfer the disk with the results or filling out the form correctly. As far as we’re concerned, the patients are having enough difficulty as is, so they shouldn’t have to do any of the leg work. They just have to call us, and we will arrange everything for them, usually within 72 hours.

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Some time after we opened MedAssist, we realized that there were some issues for which we hadn’t found solutions. For example, certain tests have very long waiting time. That is why we opened our own medical center, in which we have specialists and experts in many medical fields, such as

neurological clinic, a specialist clinic, and an ultrasound clinic, and more. Our specialists include doctors from a variety of fields, from pediatrics to breast health.

We treat 600 to 700 patients a month. Some of them are people who just don’t have the time to sit on the phone to make an appointment. People work long hours, and long lines at clinics don’t fit into their schedules. So people contact us if they need an appointment for a test or to collect test results. These are just some of the many problems we take care of. Our hotline operates 24 hours a day, six days a week.

The Covid-19 pandemic really exposed and highlighted the problems that the Israeli public health system suffers from. At the beginning of the pandemic, many people were reluctant of going to medical facilities to reactive treatment. Many patients want or even need to reactive their treatment at their house.  Because of our "patient needs comes first" approach , we created ether in house solutions or teamed up with different providers  in order to meet our patiants needs Such as X-ray and US scanning, blood or COVID testing at the patients house.In general, alongside all the sorrow ,suffering and pain, the pandemic taught us a lot. We have greatly improved in everything related to logistics and reaching patients. We have learned to be more effective and efficient. During the pandemic our service became very popular, and we doubled our number of employees.

When talking about medical situations, and in regard to Israeli and foreign insurance companies, as well as medical institutions, patients may lose precious time contacting and receiving service. We know how to contact the companies, obtain the information, and explain to the patients what their conditions are, and what are their financial options, 

We have created a mechanism that works effectively and connects systems that fail to communicate with each other. The management of our company consists of experts in the field of private medicine. The expertise of each of us has enabled us to develop new mechanisms and learn from what exists in hospitals around the world. We learned things and were able to integrate them here. We are very proud of what we have created. We were able to develop methods that enable people to go through the entire process without having to log in to an app or search online. All they have to do is contact us by phone, WhatsApp or email. We provide service in Hebrew, English, French and Russian.

We are on the constant alert for tourists, travel companies, and international insurance companies, We have become a veritable one-stop shop. From tourism companies to insurance companies around the world, many of them contact us and ask us to provide our services for their costumers and patients.

People can apply to MedAssist directly or through their insurance company. We are also very active online, but I must admit that most patients come to us through the recommendations they have received from our clients.       

 For more information: MedAssist