Health & Medicine

Thursday, 21 June 2018 15:15

A different fresh approach to smart hospitalisation

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South Africa must change her mind set about medical care and hospitalisation  

Medical aid premiums increase exponentially annually, rendering medical aid membership less affordable for an ever increasing number of South Africans.

The private healthcare system in South Africa is at risk of becoming unsustainable if medical aid costs continue on this trajectory. To feed private healthcare members into the dysfunctional government health care system, is unrealistic, probably unethical. We need to rethink our medical care practices and options to suit the South African private healthcare market. Much can be learnt from international best practices. Medical cost drivers push medical aid tariffs. Doctors charge more, hospitals charge more and medical aid premiums increase.

We seldom stop to think where increases come from and how they can be prevented or managed. Information empowers. It is time to find out what works well in other countries. How do they manage doctors’ fees? How do they curb hospitalisation costs? What can we learn from them? Internationally, in first-world countries, 70 – 80% of all surgical procedures are performed in day hospitals, which translates to an average saving of approximately 20% compared to having the same procedures in acute hospitals.

Why only 10 – 14% in South Africa?  If you have never considered a day hospital for minor procedures, now is the time to be educated about its advantages. A day hospital has the same excellent medical practitioners, state-of-the-art theatres, drugs, beds and cutting edge equipment as an acute hospital.  Many procedures can be safely performed in a day hospital. The fact that the same procedure is significantly cheaper at a day hospital, is only one aspect of the array of advantages of opting for a day hospital.

Thinking that the medical aid pays in any case is certainly not a responsible attitude; all increases in medical expenses are most certainly passed on to the consumer in the form of increased premiums and decreased benefits. It is always in the consumer’s interest to shop around to save costs where possible. The benefits of using a day hospital extend to well beyond cost effectiveness. In smaller day hospital facilities with down time for adequate cleaning every 24 hours, the risk of hospital-borne infection is significantly reduced.

The smaller number of patients allow for more dedicated care and individualised service from admission all the way through to after care. It is time for South African consumers to become street smart about their medical care options, especially with regard to the very viable and desirable option of day hospital care. If your medical practitioner has not suggested a day hospital for a minor procedure, it is in your interest to suggest this option to your practitioner.

Let us make this difference together. 

Published in Health and Medicine

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