The Australian Medical Association (AMA) recently released a position paper that urges key groups to reassess the country’s private healthcare system, especially regarding the role of GPs.
According to AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton, the ‘Position Statement on Private Health Insurance and Primary Care Services 2014’ draws attention to the need to extend the scope of GPs to care for privately insured patients, in addition to those who rely on government healthcare. The AMA is calling on the government to work in conjunction with private health insurers (PHIs) and medical professionals to take an in-depth look at the options that can be explored.
“By supporting a greater role for GPs in private health insurance arrangements, there is the potential for the coordination of patient care to be improved, for care to be provided in the most appropriate clinical settings, and unnecessary hospital admissions to be avoided,” Dr Hambleton explained.
He added that while PHIs already provide their clients with services such as telephone coaching and consultations with physiologists and dieticians, these are usually offered without collaboration with GPs. This is a key area of concern as it is the GPs who best understand the “overall care needs” of individual patients.
“This is a significant problem with the potential to fragment patient care. The AMA supports limited and well-targeted reforms that have the potential to improve patient care and save the health system money,” Dr Hambleton said.
As such, the AMA outlined several key points that any new model for private healthcare would need to address. These include recognising and supporting GPs as “the central coordinator of patient care”, implementing a more collaborative approach to patient care and taking into account the rights of practitioners to set their own fees.