The continuing fall-out from the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA’s) review, the rise of the private GP and digital engagement will be the primary focuses in the private healthcare industry during 2015, according to Iain Laws, managing director, healthcare and group risk, at Jelf Employee Benefits.
He said: ‘We predict three distinct areas that will consume much of our industry’s resources in the forthcoming year. Having said that, it is a General Election year so the NHS will be high profile, as will the government’s yet-to-fully-roll-out Fit for Work scheme. I’m sure there are going to be a number of new issues to tackle depending on the manifestos of the political parties.’
Jelf Employee Benefits predictions for healthcare in 2015:
1. Lively relationship between insurers and private hospitals
The CMA outcomes have been a trigger for closer working between insurers and providers, but we expect this to be replaced by some commercial tensions as insurers seek to reduce costs and providers seek evidence of savings being used to stimulate the insured patient market. This may result in some robust negotiations between the two, possibly with the potential for a repeat of these becoming public and with customer impact. Expect to see further refining of hospital access options within insurers’ products.
2. Rise of the private GP
Insurers will increasingly turn to private GP networks as gatekeepers for specialist referral and outpatient benefits. This will introduce a financial stakeholder as the gatekeeper, which will be increasingly valuable for medium and large employers, who can also deploy occupational health GPs to support the claims process and enhance the patient journey.
3. Digital sunrise for the UK market
Insurers will increasingly engage digitally with all customer types including using social media; rolling out platforms to support engagement and administration; and developing new and existing apps — their aim being to provide a truly 21st-century customer experience to provide access and value to both claiming and non-claiming customers, when and wherever the customer requires contact.