A blog by Anne Coyne.

Independent Practitioner Today talked with Anne Coyne, consultant relationship manager for the Private Healthcare Information Network, about how her team has been helping 14,000 private healthcare consultants submit fee data in the lead-up to this month’s start of fees going live on its website.

Since early January, the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) has been asking consultants to provide it with information about the fees they charge to their private self-pay patients. Consultants must provide this information as a requirement of Article 22 of the Competition and Markets Auth­ority (CMA) order, which followed a long-running inquiry into private healthcare.

According to Ms Coyne, the team has been encouraged by the number of consultants coming forward so far and this shows doctors’ commitment to making healthcare costs more transparent and easier to understand.

She said over 4,000 consultants had submitted some fee information and the aim was to publish this on the PHIN portal by the end of this month.

The fee information required at this point is for:

  • The fees charged to self-pay patients for initial consultations;
  • Follow-up consultations;
  • Those procedures consultants perform routinely.

PHIN is asking consultants to provide their fees for procedures that they perform, as indicated by the hospitals. Consultants can also provide information about clinics and consulting rooms where they see patients.

Said Ms Coyne: “Submitting the data in this way ensures that each consultant validates their own fee data. While on the PHIN portal, consultants have the opportunity to review their practice reports, notify hospitals of any data changes that need to be made, review and approve their performance measures and create a profile about their practice.

“We are pleased that several consultants have told us that the process to submit fees is very straightforward and it’s easy to complete.” For those who have raised concerns, she and her colleague Ellie say they have endeavoured to reassure and give support. “Some consultants have raised concerns regarding package pricing and the process for submitting this information,” reports Ms Coyne. “Many consultants have package price arrangements in place with hospitals that incorporate their fees as well as hospital costs and we also require these prices. Where these arrangements are in place, we have asked hospitals to provide this information.”

While there is currently no legal requirement on hospitals to provide this information to PHIN, it has been asked of them in order to “support a commitment to transparency of costs for patients.”

Ms Coyne says she encourages consultants to work with their hospitals to make that information available to PHIN. It is important to note that PHIN asks consultants to provide an indicative fee for their services even if a package price is in place. “Our ambition is to have packages prices available when fee information appears on our website in April, but that has a number of dependencies, such as hospitals providing their packaged prices.”

If consultants want to know more about the fee submission process, there are several ways PHIN says that it can help.

There is an online guide for consultants that provides step by step guides to logging onto the PHIN consultant portal and submitting fees. There is a telephone service available to consultants Monday to Friday to contact the PHIN consultant team on 0203 143 3177 and either seek advice over the phone or leave a message and one of the team members will come back to them. There is also the option to contact Anne or Ellie by email at consultants@phin.org.uk

Ms Coyne says: “Ellie and I try to respond to queries and messages as quickly as possible, but sometimes we need to do some further work to ensure that we can give a full and complete answer. We hope that consultants will understand that we cannot provide an immediate reply.”

The fees publication requirement from the CMA applies to all consultants working in private healthcare, so PHIN says it will be working to ensure that all of them can submit their fee information on its consultant portal. This includes the submission of fee information for those consultants who may only see patients in outpatient units and facilities as well as consulting rooms.

In the coming months, PHIN will be working with hospitals to promote the collection of feedback from patients so that they can provide consultants with patient satisfaction information. PHIN is progressing its work on the publication of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) data, but Ms Coyne said it will talk with consultants and presentative bodies on their approach to this before it happens.

Consultants are being asked to provide their fee information to PHIN using the secure PHIN Consultant Portal. The online guide for consultants and the secure Portal can be accessed at https://portal.phin.org.uk.

You can read the original article here: https://www.independent-practitioner-today.co.uk/2019/04/better-get-clear-on-transparency/

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