It is important to consider the pros and cons of GP networks objectively. What are the factors that are critical to you and your practice when you are reviewing your options?
We appreciate that medicine is both, a profession and a ‘calling’
You have a driving passion to help others. You sacrifice your time and energy for the care of your patients, often at a tremendous cost. This includes personal, business and the price your family pays when you work long hours to ensure that your patients are getting the best care and so that you are able to manage a sustainable practice for your staff too.
When you became a GP you aspired to achieve many things in your career:
- Help others. More specifically enable your patients to access affordable and better care to improve their quality of life.
- Be challenged and learn throughout your life as technology and clinical improvements enable you to provide better ways of helping people improve their health.
- Be successful and be remunerated according to the valuable contribution you make to society.
But the reality is that you face many challenges:
- Costs are increasing – both clinical costs for you and your patients, and the business costs of running a successful practice
- The pace of clinical and technological change is unrelenting
- Many doctors are forced to see more and more patients to make ends meet
- The regulatory and industry pressure is forcing changes in the way that you run your practice and the associated media pressure about the cost and quality of healthcare can at times be quite demoralising
- The role of the family doctor or GP is sometimes undermined which leads to many patients ‘GP hopping’, seeking specialist attention and escalating their care due to supplier access without it being clinically necessary AND without having sought your valuable longer-term and holistic view of their health.
The GP and healthcare environment is changing rapidly
The South African GP landscape is changing and how you choose to embrace this change will influence your success. Many providers and healthcare funders have set up a range of different networks for GPs. They vary in their specific objectives, but have a common thread in that they wish to build better relationships with GPs as co–ordinators of care in the healthcare value chain. As the industry consolidates and healthcare becomes a commodity, it is not inconceivable that you will consider contracting with a network.