HBF feeling the heat
A couple of weeks ago, HBF posted an $80m surplus, which is not bad going for any business but particularly satisfying if you are a member mutual. Digging deeper and the story becomes a little more complicated reflecting the turbulent 12 months in the private health insurance world. Competition is hot with the privitisation of Medibank Private and HBF has made some sharp business moves this year to protect and potentially grow its patch such as forming an alliance with a dozen or so smaller member mutuals and aligning with aggregator iSelect. HBF’s annual report shows its after-tax surplus is down from $122.8m on the previous year despite a 5.1% increase in contributions (up to $1.4b) while benefits shot up to $1.33b (a 7.3% increase). It’s been a tough year for other WA NFPs – RAC announced a $19.5m net profit down from $37.9m the previous year.
As a result of Medicare Locals winding up, former service delivery companies associated with them were required to wind up with the arrival of the PHNs. Last month we heard about the EGM of Panorama Health (Perth North ML) where its members have accepted all the recommendations to wind it up and roll over remaining assets to the new service company, Black Swan. We understand now that apparently the Federal Government insisted on these corporate gymnastics for all companies associated with former MLs, which appears to be a waste of time and money for those involved, particularly as these new service companies are doing essentially the same work as the old entities. South Coastal ML has created 360, Fremantle ML has created One Healthy Community and Bentley Armadale ML, Arche Health.
WAGPET gets late nod
The word went out at the end of September that nine of the 11 GP training organisations were signed up but decisions were pending for both WA and SA. What the delay was no one was saying which led to us to speculate that perhaps WAGPET was holding out for a better deal for its vocational GP training program which was jeopardised by the lack of MBS provider numbers. A new day dawned on October 21 when WAGPET announced it had reached “an in-principle agreement” to run the AGPT program for the next three years. Interestingly its statement went on: “Work continues on completing the details of the agreement however we anticipate there will be minimal disruptions” for participants. We don’t know the gives and takes on this one but more hard-ball should be played to get the best deal for GPs. Meanwhile the government has also announced its GP training advisory committee which has two West Australians – RACGP president Dr Frank Jones and Kununurra GP Dr Siew-Lee Thoo.
GPs last to know
With the opening of the Midland Health Campus just three weeks away (November 20), MF learnt via Opposition Health spokesman Roger Cook’s questioning of the Health Minister that GPs in the catchment were only being notified of referral processes for restricted procedures (fertility) to the SJG-run hospital sometime after October 20 when Mr Cook received the official reply. That doesn’t give docs much time to get their heads around the grey zones of the contract. We can tell Midland GPs that if your patient is at MHC and requests a restricted procedure available only at Marie Stopes or KEMH, they will be sent back to you for the referral. Similarly, if a woman has delivered at MHC, she will have access to family planning information before discharge but “seek advice on options for contraception from their GP at their six week postnatal review”.
Once more, with feeling
Someone has been in the RACS’s ear. Just five days after the surgeons’ college released a media release, came an unreserved apology for failure to respond to serious sexual harassment allegations seven years ago, naming Sydney vascular surgeon Gabrielle McMullin and the help she sought for female trainees (covered by the ABC among other media outlets). The first media release was a fanfare of its Expert Advisory Group, set up to examine discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment within the college training program, and the release of its final report to the college which will inform an action plan to be released this month. The later media release highlighted how the RACS needs to be more involved and “cannot rely solely on investigations undertaken in the workplace by hospitals” and the educational programs it had set up since complaints first arose in 2008 had been ineffectual.
DrShop takes a stand
Electronic script ordering has been interchangeable between eRx and Medisecure since January 2013. Realtime monitoring of script drug abuse, beyond Schedule 8 drugs, has been in the news lately, mainly because the profession and governments can’t get their act together to monitor and prevent drug deaths investigated by State Coroners (even though the ERRCD is funded under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement). In WA, we have Heath Ledger’s memory (see ScriptWise website). Now, a frustrated MediSecure has gone it alone and launched DrShop providing free to doctors info to pick up script misuse amongst patients, in real time. Other key software supporters are Medtech, Minfos, Medinet and Best Practice.