Medibank is trialling an initiative with GPs to explore ways to improve access to the wide range of programs at more affordable prices. The trial program, currently being run in six local areas in Queensland, is about supporting GPs as the key primary care provider and better promoting primary care as an important and effective part of the health system.
“GPs underpin our health system, being the entry point for most people into the healthcare environment and are involved in all stages of the care continuum from prevention to treatment and rehabilitation. A visit to the GP that identifies risk factors or a medical condition in the early stages can have a huge impact on preventing further illness,” Medibank’s National Medical Director, Dr Ian Boyd said.
“We are working hard to provide our members with enhanced value and to improve the health of all Australians. Closer collaboration with GPs, particularly in the areas of preventative health, choice and access to services is better for our members’ health and also makes sense to Medibank from a business perspective. If we can keep members healthier and out of hospital it is a win-win situation.”
“Importantly, this pilot will give us valuable data to assist in looking at new ways of doing things and improving the system.”
The Medibank and IPN offer is in a pilot stage at the current time, but aims to the better guide our members through the existing healthcare system enabling access to:
• A 24 hour guarantee - members will get an appointment to see a doctor within 24 hours of calling.
• No out-of-pocket expense - participating GPs have agreed not to charge an out-of-pocket expense.
• Access to an after-hours GP - after-hours home visits by a GP with no out-of-pockets.
• A range of one-off health assessments available to people at different life stages with no out of pocket costs.
“In order to test the concept and the practicalities of the program, the offer is presently only available in six IPN Medical Centres located in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. It is important to get the program right so that members are getting the most out of the initiative,” Dr Boyd said.
Medibank is hoping to roll the program out to broader Queensland regions in March/April. Decisions on the future of the program will be based on the benefits it provides members, along with other considerations such as Medibank’s ability to scale up the offer.
“If the upcoming trials are evaluated to be successful and beneficial to all we hope to open up the program to a broader audience, including other GP clinics. We are encouraged by the initial feedback from many of the participating GPs and patients which has been very positive,” Dr Boyd added.
“This program is optional for both patients and GPs, and is about providing Medibank members with choices that may assist them to access a GP. This GP service could be added to their existing GP relationship, for example, if a member is struggling to access their GP within a short time frame; or if they are reluctant to pay an out-of-pocket cost for a basic consultation.”
Medibank has no involvement in the clinical interface. The GP has complete ownership of the clinical component of the GP/patient relationship.
“As a former practising GP myself, I know how important it is for GPs to manage the healthcare of their patients, Medibank’s aim is to provide GPs with more support to enable them to do this.”
Medibank and IPN are contributing to the management of the pilot and associated administrative costs. Both parties are highly respectful of the legal and regulatory obligations.
Medibank is also collaborating with GPs on a growing range of innovative initiatives. For example, a care coordination service for people with complex health needs and new healthcare platforms such as Anywhere Healthcare, which assists people in regional areas to access specialist services.
Many of the GPs in the current trial are AMA members and we have briefed the AMA since the early stages of the pilot’s development.
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