Perceptions around managed health care service delivery in private medical care in the Republic of South Africa.
Scott, Mitchell Robert.
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Introduction: This study aimed to explore private General Practitioners' perceptions of Managed Health Care CMHC) for health service delivery in the Republic of South Africa (RSA). The specific objectives were to review perceptions regarding issues in MHC including ethics of care, quality of care, design ofMHC programmes and regulation and monitoring ofMHC. The study also reviewed demographic profile of respondents and associations between demographic profile and perceptions. A literature survey indicates that MHC was introduced in a Western context as a means ofregulating cost of healthcare. Models ofMHC generally involve a need to obtain authorization and a restriction of services available. There are ongoing debates about MBC and in particular the potential conflict between managing healthcare provision using business and profit principles and the principles of other stakeholders in health care. Providers, such as General Practitioners, are concerned that their autonomy and their ability to offer best possible care for their patients may be compromised. Patients feel that their ability to access optimal care is not a primary consideration in a model of MBe. The popularity ofMBC in the United States of America is declining and MBC companies have been making financial losses on the Stock Market. MBC has been introduced in South Africa and there has not been any recent assessment of healthcare provider perceptions of the model. This study aimed to address this gap in literature. Methods: The study design was mixed with quantitative and qualitative components. The study population was all private General Practitioners in RSA as this population would have most experience of MBC. The data collection tool was designed by the researcher and comprised closed-ended questions and one open-ended question around perceptions of MBe. Demographic data, and other data relating to experience of MBC, was collected on a separate questionnaire. Questionnaires were posted to a representative sample of private General Practitioners; this constituted 30% of all active private General Practitioners. Results and discussion: The response rate was poor at 13.6%. Respondents generally had negative perceptions of MHe. They cited problems with ethics ofMBC, quality of service and felt that it affected their ability to act independently. They felt that MHC should be monitored by an independent regulatory body and that there should be more teaching around differing models of healthcare. There were no significant associations between gender, place of work, experience oftvtHC and perceptions. However, there was a significant correlation between doctors employed by Iv1HC companies and perceptions. A major limitation of this study was the predominant use of quantitative methodology. A qualitative methodology, using focus group discussion, may have highlighted major issues and following initial qualitative methods a quantitative tool could have been developed. The low response rate is of concern. Respondents may be biased and may have only responded if they felt strongly about the subject. However, respondents did raise some important issues, especially with regards to ethics which must be explored further. There should be ongoing research into differing models of healthcare provision (for example private-public partnerships). Medical school curricula should include training around models of healthcare. Consideration should be given to monitoring MBC using an independent monitoring authority.