Driving treatment outcomes in favour of the patient

A recent article in the Financial Review (Stephen Duckett Next step in health reform, p47, AFR 3/7/13) explained how Australian general practitioners are remunerated primarily on a fee per visit basis. There is clear commercial incentive here to maximise the number of visits.

I can’t see how that model of remuneration is going to deliver better health outcomes.

Westfund runs dental practices that remunerate our dentists on the basis of a fee per patient with a smaller amount based on the actual service. This drives treatment outcomes in favour of the patient as the treatment program is more able to focus on their long term best interest as opposed to a quick fix (drill and fill).

While Australia has a pretty good health system all systems needs consistent review and improvement. The payment to fix illness only goes part of the way. We need to work out how to remunerate healthcare professionals for the role they play in preventing illness. This is fundamental to any efficient healthcare system.

Not-for-profit health funds like Westfund are a microcosm for the broader system. As health experts keep saying, it’s all about finding new ways to fund the overall care of the patient.

And that’s exactly what we are about at Westfund.