RBP health insurance recently underwent large-scale modernisation, visually and functionally. We spoke to RBP CEO Antonín Klimša about what the company can offer clients and employers and what makes it unique.
Mr Klimša, first of all, could you give us a little bit of an introduction to yourself?
I spent the vast majority of my career working in the mining industry under OKD, where I spent seventeen years. Throughout this journey I worked in many positions, including some of the highest. The final two and a half years I spent at the company were as part of the executive board and as CEO. In 2018, I left OKD to become CEO of the RBP health insurance company.
Can you tell us something about RBP’s history?
Not everyone realises this, but the origins of the RBP date back to 1802. Back then, mining accidents were exponentially more common than they are now and convenient tools for social and health security had yet to exist. This meant that a miner’s family was left without an income if he were to get injured. As a means to mitigate this risk, so-called ‘fraternal district treasuries’ (Revírní bratrské pokladny, in Czech, or RBPs for short) were created. Miners would contribute a part of their income to the fund and, if they were to get injured or sick, they would then receive financial aid. The name for this social safety net was devised as a compound of its purpose. ‘Fraternal’ referred to the brotherly bond the miners shared in their employment. Approved mining areas were divided into districts and RBPs’ function as a treasury is self-explanatory. After all, we saw how treasuries work in the Czechoslovakian comedy film U Pokladny Stál… with Vlasta Burian. Fraternal treasuries have survived feudalism, the Austria-Hungarian empire, the First Republic, fascism and even communism. That is the origin story behind the modern RBP insurance company.
What innovations did you bring to your clients at RBP?
I entered RBP with a plan to modernise the company. My strategy consisted of three main pillars: content updates, a face-lift of the company’s brand and visual style, and communication modernisation.
By content, I mainly mean health programmes for clients. Certain services have to be provided by insurance companies by law. In addition to that, however, we also offer special health programmes. These include projects aimed at increasing the availability of healthcare, or, for example, telemedicine projects where the vital signs (such as blood pressure or blood sugar) of chronic patients are measured remotely through tools the patients are given and remote access technologies. The data is then sent to contracted doctors and the patients’ state of health can be monitored long-term.
In terms of marketing, we have focused on the visualisation and modernisation of RBP’s brand. We decided that it is time for us to consider the company’s image in the context of future generations. At the same time, we also did not intend to change the firm’s name and turn it into something completely unrecognisable. These two concerns gave rise to two thoughts: shortening our name from Revírní Bratrská Pokladna to RBP and updating our graphic style. We had to deliberate over the best methods to incorporate our symbols into our logo. Eventually, however, we managed to include all the important motifs, including our code, 213.
Communication between clients and insurance companies is most often done through branch offices, call centres, websites and mobile applications. We analysed our current standing and created a programme that will help us adapt our offices for the future. Our goal is to renovate and modernise our offices as well as make them barrier-free. We were also Czechia’s first insurance company to offer a virtual office where clients can hold video calls with operators. These calls take place on a platform that is part of our website. Virtual offices allow clients to arrange a date and time, during which our employees can take care of requests the client would otherwise have to take care of at a physical branch office.
The final part of our communication strategy is an update to our mobile application and website. Our new application, ‘my213’, has significantly improved the speed of our safe online communication with clients. In addition to that, we have also launched our new ‘barrier-free’ website, which is programmed in a way that allows regular as well as physically and visually impaired clients to interface with it. We have added features that allow for more comfortable mouse movement for people with a limited range of motion, and purblind users have the option of increasing text size by up to 400%. The website has also been designed in a way that allows fully blind clients to use special readers that capture text and image descriptions and read them outloud. These readers give the client a full overview of the site’s content and allow them to navigate to their desired service using only a keyboard. We had to follow and guarantee strict international norms, such as the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) in the creation of this website. I believe that we are currently Czechia’s only insurance company with a barrier-free website.
Your insurance company’s registration number, 213, is also tied to a number of your projects, my213, magnet213, and dia213, just to name a few. Could you tell us more about them?
I already talked a little bit about our application ‘my213’ as part of our new communication strategy. Other than being able to monitor an overview of their doctor’s records, we now also gave our clients the option to electronically ask for contributions from the prevention fund directly within the app. Before, clients had to visit a physical office and provide the required paperwork to do this; now it can be done in five to ten minutes from the comfort of their homes. After a year of its existence, over 25% of our clients, that is, over 100,000 people, started using our app. We consider this to be a great success. In 2021, RBP even received an award for the app in the digital transformation category of the national WebTop100 competition.
‘Magnet213’ is one of our most well-known projects. It focuses on increasing the availability of magnetic resonance imaging. Doctors and patients alike were unhappy with the long wait times associated with this imaging technology, which extended diagnostic times and thus delayed treatment. We decided to contract healthcare service providers in the heart of the Moravian-Silesian Region (which includes Ostrava, Havířov, Karvína, and Frýdek-Místek, a total of about half a million people) and create a web of facilities that could offer all our clients an MRI scan within fourteen days of request. We can offer this service not at the expense of persons using a different insurance company but by making use of existing machines in more than single-shift modes. Surcharges from the side of RBP allowed MRI service providers to add more operating hours to the machines and this extra time can then be used by RBP clients.
‘Dia213’ is another one of our telemedicine projects, this time aimed at chronic diabetic patients. It is a system that allows for the remote monitoring of a patient’s blood sugar. In collaboration with the University Hospital Ostrava and the NDC (Czechia’s National Monitoring Centre), we have been able to include over seventy of our most severely affected clients in this project. Thanks to the remote access provided by our mobile operators, data about the patients gets uploaded to the hospital’s telemedicine centre and accessed by their doctors, who can manage and monitor it.
Our biggest project to date is Horizon II – A Chance for the Heart. It was created before our ‘213’ project line and was based on the same principle as the more recent dia213. It was aimed at cardiac patients suffering from hypertension and during its run worked with a total of 2,500 people. Participants were outfitted with phones, blood pressure monitors and bracelets that recorded physical activity. The project was halted last year after running for two years. Currently, the results of Horizon II are being analysed in order to determine whether long-term remote monitoring has an advantage over more conventional methods.
Can you give us a brief rundown of your goals and plans for the next couple years?
At the turn of 2020-2021, we created a strategic plan called RBP 2030, designed to develop and modernise the company’s fields of management. Digitisation is next on the list for us. We expect that, by 2030, we will be a fully digital company. Gradually, we are constructing a digital framework for all our processes, allowing us to do away with physical paperwork. We also plan to continue our modernisation strategy by transforming all of our branch offices to fit a uniformed style and to further develop our health programmes and web of healthcare service providers. Due to our history of developing alongside mining regions, our contracts mainly include a web of doctors operating in these areas. On the other hand, the Moravian-Silesian Region is now experiencing a larger population shift than it ever has before. More people are moving out of the region than people coming in. In order to prevent a situation where one of our clients moves to a different region and finds out that their insurance company has no locally contracted doctors, we have begun negotiating with healthcare providers in more cities and other regions. Our goal in this effort is to contract around 1,000 new healthcare providers every year.
For many years now, RBP has hosted events called ‘A Healthy Business’ or ‘Health Day’ at different companies. What sorts of activities does a ‘Health Day’ include? What type of feedback do you receive from these events?
Initially, we only hosted Healthy Business days at companies concerned with the mining industry, however, we eventually branched out to others, as well. These events involve some of our staff visiting the business and conducting examinations of the employees (these include measurements of BMI, vascular patency, lung capacity, blood pressure, consultations on smoking, eye and skin mark diagnostics, AIDS tests and so on). We also host seminars on preventative inspections and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This service is free and available to anyone, not only our clients.
What does the CEO of an insurance company do in their free time? How do you recharge your batteries?
Well, currently, my batteries are only being discharged. I have two children and both of them play tennis, and the time you have to sacrifice as a parent of children that do sports, tennis especially, is rather large. Not only does this include the work week but the weekend as well. In other words, I do not have the opportunity to recharge the energy I use throughout my week. I do like doing sport, though, so whenever I actually do have some free time, once in a blue moon, I like to relax through sport.
Mr Klimša, thank you for the interview.