The Health Market Inquiry relied on outdated data to draw conclusions that the private healthcare market is concentrated, according to hospital group Mediclinic.
The international private hospital group's Southern African arm on Monday issued a statement reacting to the findings of the Health Market Inquiry (HMI). The inquiry, led by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, found that the private healthcare market is not competitive enough, with only a few dominant players. The inquiry started in 2014 and took five years to wrap up.
Mediclinic itself had made submissions to the inquiry as the group of hospitals took the position that resolving issues in the sector requires a collaborative process, according to CEO Koert Pretorius.
While the HMI maintained in its conclusions that the private hospital market is concentrated – being dominated by Netcare, Mediclinic and Life Healthcare – Mediclinic and other industry players submitted data analyses and research studies indicating that the conclusions are "incorrect and outdated", Mediclinic said.
Market has 'moved on'
"The HMI states erroneously that the three leading private hospital groups are able to distort and prevent competition by binding the best medical specialists to their hospitals with lucrative inducement programs," the statement read.
Mediclinic has defended itself by saying that it supports cost-effective quality care and does not condone any treatment that is not in the best interests of the patient, nor does it condone any relationships between hospitals and doctors that do not meet its ethical code of conduct.
"It is important to note that the market context has moved on since 2014; the end date for the majority of data used.
"Current data must be used to find current best solutions for the unique South African healthcare market, especially as South Africa prepares itself for the introduction of the NHI (National Health Insurance)," said Pretorius.
Despite differences of opinion on the conclusions reached by the inquiry, Mediclinic has supported some of the recommendations made.
Ngcobo told journalists at a briefing earlier on Monday that the recommendations focus on correcting "competitive distortions, improve access to and increase affordability of private healthcare".
Among the recommendations Mediclinic supports, includes having bilateral tariff negotiations between facilities and funders.
Mediclinic also supports the creation of an Outcomes Monitoring and Reporting Organisation. This independent, private organisation will allow providers, patients and all other healthcare providers to generate "patient-centred" and "scientific robust" information on healthcare outcomes.
"Quality outcomes information has been an ongoing issue as flagged by Mediclinic’s participative submissions in the HMI process… This will provide patients, healthcare professionals and funders with greater transparency on clinical performance information," the group said.
Mediclinic also threw its weight behind recommendations that the Health Professions Council of South Africa existing ethical rules be reviewed. "The existing HPCSA ethical rules prohibit joint initiatives to develop new efficient and cost-effective care delivery models," Mediclinic said.
The group will continue to study the details of the final findings and recommendations, it said.