Independent practitioners say patients must have access to information about fees and Quality and Outcomes to help them make informed treatment choices, according to a revealing snapshot of opinion by Healthcode.
The leading providers of online solutions to the private healthcare sector, surveyed a sample of its customers during October 2014 to determine their awareness of the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) final report and support for its remedies. Reflecting on the survey results, available on Healthcode's website, the company's Managing Director, Peter Connor, said it highlighted the good judgement of most consultants who recognised that data transparency was now essential to the success of the private health sector.
Although few survey respondents had read the full CMA report, most were clearly in favour of the information remedies it set out. When it came to consultant fees, 85% thought it was right that patients could research the fees charged by private providers although quality of care was more important than cost. One consultant commented that healthcare providers should be like "any other industry or service, otherwise it is like getting a menu at a restaurant with no prices listed and being expected to order a meal".
In addition, an impressive 94% of those surveyed were in favour of the publication of consultant performance data. Respondents said this would "bring the private sector into line with the NHS", "increase the credibility" of the private sector and that clinicians "had nothing to hide". However some concerns were expressed that the statistics might be misleading without careful explanation and that it might lead some clinicians to practice more conservatively and avoid more difficult cases.
Peter Connor said: "When the CMA's Final Report was published, attention initially focused on hospital disbursements but the remedies also herald important changes for independent practitioners. Our survey shows that consultants appreciate these changes are both necessary and desirable, and this positive response shows that consultants themselves are a great asset to the private health sector.
"At the same time, we understand the concern that the published information must be clear, accurate and easy to understand so patients can make truly informed decisions. This is a priority for Healthcode too and so we are developing robust tools and systems which make recording the necessary raw data an easy and efficient process for providers."
A detailed report about Healthcode's survey findings, is available on the Healthcode website at www.healthcode.co.uk/cma