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Bonitas Medical Fund launches an innovative new GP partner network

14 May 2009 Bonitas Medical Fund
Bafana Nkosi, Chief Principal Officer, at Bonitas

Bafana Nkosi, Chief Principal Officer, at Bonitas

Bonitas Medical Fund, South Africa’s top medical aid brand and the second largest open scheme in the country, today announced the launch of a new initiative, the Bonitas GP Network.

Encompassing over 2850 contracted-in doctors, the network will provide value-based healthcare aimed at improving total health management as well as the overall cost-effectiveness of medical treatment. Amongst other features, it will offer members a guaranteed cost structure, and will incentivise doctors and members to plan their medical treatment as carefully as possible in order to benefit from both an outcome and cost perspective.

“Members will benefit significantly,” says Bafana Nkosi, Chief Principal Officer, at Bonitas. “To begin with, all contracted professionals have agreed to charge Bonitas members only prescribed rates. This means that members will know upfront what a doctor’s visit or procedure will cost, and won’t be faced with having to foot the bill for unexpected expenses.”

Members will also be encouraged to take an active role in the management of their own health and will receive specific targeted communication e.g. reminders when they are due for specific tests in respect of targeted chronic conditions.

Bonitas will support the doctors by ensuring that best practice guidelines for the treatment of chronic illnesses are available at their finger tips. For example chronic disease checklists have been designed to assist in improving the outcomes for chronic illnesses. They will empower doctors to identify and treat chronic illnesses sooner rather than later, and to ensure that members receive appropriate and timeous care for these conditions.

“As far as general practitioners are concerned, they will benefit from knowing that they are part of a healthcare network dedicated to improving healthcare on a broad basis,” says Nkosi, “and also from being motivated to provide appropriate care in the most cost-effective way.” The independent practitioner association (IPA) leadership has been instrumental in the contracting of doctors and delivering this message to their members. As part of its overall objective of providing quality broad-based healthcare, the Bonitas GP Network will reward GPs for improvements in clinical care as defined in the network model.

For example, a simple measure of good blood sugar control is the HbA1C blood test. Diabetic patients need to undergo this test every six months in order to confirm that their illness is being well managed. In terms of the network model, doctors will be paid a fee to conduct these tests on an on-going basis, which will not only improve long-term disease management, but keep costs under control. Similarly, Bonitas GP Network doctors will be paid an incentive for prescribing tests that conform to evidence-based protocols, and which will improve the quality of care for members.

“The Bonitas GP Network model ensures that members will receive prime healthcare from a network of GPs who can focus on the wellbeing of their patients in the knowledge that the profitability of their practices is secure as well,” says Nkosi. “It’s about setting and achieving specific targets, and rewarding doctors for any improvements in their patients’ health as measured against these targets.

“The model has been designed to incentivise doctors and protect patients. It’s not only about cost saving, and will benefit everyone. Patients will be assured of appropriate quality care, and our GP network will be guaranteed return business.”

Bonitas hopes that the new network will motivate doctors to achieve high levels of added value by encouraging a more holistic approach to patient care.

“As one of the country’s leading medical aid providers, Bonitas will support the doctors who avoid unnecessary expenses and promote cost-effective alternatives,” says Nkosi “and who enable our members to maintain better health as well as to save money.”

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