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Mediclinic: We're not involved in anti-competitive behaviour

Mediclinic said it welcomed the opportunity to present its submissions to the inquiry, which it said proved that it upheld high ethical standards.

FILE: A picture taken on 28 March 2013 shows a partial view of the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - International hospital group Mediclinic said it was incorrect for the Competition Commission’s health market inquiry report to state that it prevented competition.

The inquiry, which released its final report and recommendations on Monday, said Mediclinic, Netcare and Life Healthcare Group had banded the best medical specialists to their hospitals with lucrative inducement programmes.

Mediclinic said it welcomed the opportunity to present its submissions to the inquiry, which it said proved that it upheld high ethical standards. However, its CEO Koert Pretorius said it was not true that the three leading private hospital groups were able to distort and prevent competition.

Pretorius said Mediclinic did not condone any relationships between hospitals and doctors that did not meet its high ethical code of conduct. The group said it presented analyses and conclusions to show that the findings on market concentration were incorrect and outdated.

Pretorius said Mediclinic also noted the recommendation on reviews of tariff models as some were in line with its strategy. And it believed focusing on outcomes would provide patients, healthcare professionals, and funders with greater transparency on clinical performance information.

On the establishment of an independent supply-side regulator for healthcare, Mediclinic said it was yet to understand the proposed functions of the body.

OVERHAUL OF ASSOCIATIONS

Health practitioners may see an overhaul of their associations if Parliament approves the recommendations of the Competition Commission.

The inquiry into private healthcare found that associations are failing to hold their members to account and some connive with hospitals to prescribe unnecessary services to patients and that associations should review their ethical rules.

There are a quarter of a million health practitioners in South Africa and they belong to various professional bodies. Yet many never face the consequences of poor outcomes.

Professor Sharon Fonn said practitioner associations were also collusive to an extent.

“You do more, you get more money. In South Africa, we never know who’s who in the zoo, we don’t know where. There are existing lists, but they could include retired people and those who are overseas.”

The inquiry said fees for services must also be streamlined and made known to patients and the billing codes for medical aid must be reviewed.

“The codes haven’t been updated so there are new interventions that don’t have codes and it also allows for unilateral code introduction.”

The inquiry recommended that associations must separate their academic and business activities.

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