Is your PHIN profile accurate?

Is your PHIN profile accurate?

phin

Our team at Designated Medical have recently been in touch with Jonathan Evans 
Communications and External Affairs Manager, Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), to ask him why private practitioners should be part of their network. 

For those of you who may not be familiar with PHIN, it is an independent, government-mandated source of information about private healthcare. The principle behind the network is to empower patients to make better-informed choices when choosing private treatment.’ 

 PHIN are committed to improving transparency to open up the private sector, to using feedback to drive continuous quality improvement and to providing information to consumers and patients which enables them to make better-informed choices about their healthcare. 

PHIN is a legal requirement for all consultants in the UK, but we asked Jonathan what else would he add to the standard information available on PHIN, especially to new consultants entering private healthcare. 

Engaging with PHIN is really important. Not only is it a legal requirement to engage with PHIN to submit fee information but reviewing your data and signing it off for publication is crucial and, when consultants have done that, many of them tell us that it is a very valuable resource.  

Following the Paterson Inquiry and greater collaboration between the NHS and private sector through the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a big push for greater transparency, and it is unlikely that private healthcare will ever go back to the days of old. People considering private treatment are consumers and they act like consumers. Greater transparency about what work consultants and hospitals undertake, and the outcomes (i.e. the benefit to patients), is now an expectation.  

PHIN is not only a great place to market yourself, but it is also a place where you can view your whole practice data. This can help with whole practice appraisal and revalidation, but many consultants also find this helpful for understanding the care they provide in relation to others.’ 

You will find on the PHIN website there is a secure portal for both hospitals and consultants to access PHIN data. 

Once PHIN receives private activity data associated with a Consultants’ GMC number, a Portal account is created using their GMC registered email address. PHIN will contact the consultant via email to sign up to the Portal. 

As a consultant the Portal allows you to: 

  • review data that has been submitted about your practice 
  • submit your fee information for publication 
  • create a profile about you and your clinical practice for publication on PHIN’s website 
  • verify performance measures for publication. 

PMI companies are especially interested in PHIN data, and have access to the website, but how important is the data to the PMI companies and will it be provided to patients whose care is funded by private health insurance in the future? Jonathan shares his views. 

PMI companies are interested in the information which is published on the website for anyone to access and would like to see more. Insurers are a key stakeholder group – they understand that greater transparency is where the private healthcare market needs to head and are totally supportive of the work PHIN does. We know they are keen to ensure good compliance by the consultants and hospitals with whom they work. 

Consultants are required under the CMA Order to publish their individual fees but, because of package pricing and differing insurer arrangements, this consultant fee information is not very useful to consumers by itself. We, therefore, want to work with PMIs, provider hospitals and consultants on the publication of a more useful range of prices. From PHIN’s perspective, it is important that there is much greater transparency in general around costs and price, to assist people considering private health care.’ 

 COVID has driven the healthcare industry, both public and private to deliver big changes in the way they practice, and PHIN is no exception. A recent article in the Independent Practitioner Today discussed a new research project that aims to give consultants more meaningful feedback about the work they do in private practice. Bearing this in mind, Jonathan explains what future projects PHIN have in place to help deliver against this. 

‘PHIN is working with LSE on a project to improve the collection of data on patient-reported outcomes (PROMs). It is so important that we listen to patients and use their feedback to enable more informed choice by healthcare consumers. We are working with hospitals and consultants to make sure that we do collect meaningful information from PROMs and QPROMs (for cosmetic surgery), and this is played back to consultants.  

PHIN will be launching a new website this summer (2021). We have taken the time to engage with a number of different stakeholders, most notably patients themselves, to understand what information matters to them, and how we can present information in the best possible way. We are excited about this and we’d encourage consultants to make sure they are on the new website This is something they won’t want to miss out on if they are going to grow their private practice, especially with more people expected to consider private care due to growing NHS waiting lists.  

We are asking them to: 

  • Submit their fee information  
  • Complete a profile – the better the profile the more likely Patients will engage with it! 
  • Review and verify their practice data. ‘ 

 

Our team at Designated Medical are available to support you with delivering the PHIN criteria. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with your Medical PA, Designated Marketing team or with Hannah Smith to discuss further. 

 

 

 

A new era: Private consultants & fee transparency

A new era: Private consultants & fee transparency

Should private consultants fees be published online? Consultants, hospitals and patients all have an opinion on the issue of fee transparency. But despite a legal challenge, the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) have ruled that they will be published. And the burden is primarily on consultants to provide fee transparency. In March 2017, the CMA announced that fees will be published online by April 2019. The Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) will gather and publish information on consultant fees.

Consultants fee transparency to patients

In addition to the information PHIN will ask for, consultants working at private hospitals must also supply information directly to patients before a consultation, test or treatment. This applies to consultants who refer patients for treatment or tests and those who have practising privileges at a private hospital. Consultants must give details of fees, estimated costs and a list of recognised insurers amongst other information. Private hospitals should provide consultants with a template letter to do this.

It has been compulsory to provide this information before an outpatient consultation since December 31, 2017. From February 28, 2018, consultants must supply the relevant information to patients before further treatment or tests. All of these requirements stem from Article 22 of the Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014.

Investigations into private healthcare

The shakeup of the private healthcare market has been happening for many years, and we can now see the full extent of the additional regulatory requirements for private providers. Both the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission (now part of the Competitions and Markets Authority) have conducted investigations into private healthcare in recent years. Both investigations were led by concerns that private healthcare was not as accountable as the NHS. The British Orthopaedic Association’s briefing for its members provides an excellent background summary.

The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) reported that private patients didn’t have sufficient access to information in order to compare quality and cost. Their report in 2014 provided a number of ‘remedies’ which PHIN are putting into practice. All private healthcare providers have to provide PHIN with performance information including lengths of stay, mortality rates and readmission figures. This is all detailed in the Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014.

The impact on private consultants

Whilst private hospitals are responsible for ensuring their consultants provide information to patients, the primary burden falls on consultants. Medical support staff such as medical secretaries should be able to assist with additional paperwork, as they are already familiar with other regulatory tasks.

Designated Medical can provide flexible medical secretary support on a monthly plan or PAYG basis, so let us help!

Interview with ANDREW VALLANCE-OWEN – PHIN CHAIRMAN

Interview with ANDREW VALLANCE-OWEN – PHIN CHAIRMAN

You spent many years as the Group Medical Director at BUPA before joining PHIN, what attracted you to your current role as Chairman at PHIN?

I retired about 5 years ago from BUPA and then moved on to do non-executive work. One of the areas I was involved in when I was with BUPA was the question of clinical governance, data collection and outcome measurements and for many years I have been talking within the private sector about the need for transparency and for more information to be made available to consumers.

In particular, I was very involved with the whole question of encouraging outcome measurements involving patients directly. I chaired the Department of Health patient reported outcomes group which supported the development of that programme.

Knowing the work I was doing, Matt James, our Chief Executive asked very early on if I could now take on the Chairmanship of PHIN, and I was delighted to do so. This was a continuation of the work that I had been doing for all those years. I was very keen to bring my knowledge and experience particularly around the use of patient reported outcome measurements, and I was delighted to be part of the organisation bringing this important work to life.

The private healthcare sector is well established in the UK but in 2014 the CMA found that the information available to patients considering this option was inadequate, how will PHIN help patients make better informed choices?

In 2014 the CMA started their investigations into the private healthcare sector. They were saying what many of us have been saying for a long time, that patients in the private sector just did not have enough information to make informed decisions about where they could go and who they could see. There is a wealth of this sort of information available in the NHS but the CMA found that similar information was not available in the independent sector. It was absolutely right, and we very much supported what the CMA were saying, it is crucial to have this information. Today patients are much more discerning and demanding and they want to have information before they make their decision, this is often in consultation with their GP and so PHIN absolutely agreed with what the CMA was trying to do.

ANDREW VALLANCE-OWEN

Now we have a situation where the private sector will submit data to one information body PHIN, and we will work with the private hospitals and NHS PPUs to produce consistently high quality information for patients – the consumers, on the PHIN website. In the past patient experience information was to be found on many, many websites but not in a consistent way, now PHIN is able to publish accurate, robust, and standardised information in a sensitive way that is helpful for patients.

The CMA requires that all hospitals providing privately funded healthcare including NHS hospitals are members of PHIN and that they submit patient episode data, what will you do with this data?

The data submitted to PHIN will be used to produce 11 performance measures (as specified by the CMA), which will be published on the PHIN website – supporting patients with greater information about the range, quality, and safety of care services available to them. Currently there are three performance measures published at hospital site level only – patient numbers, average length of stay, and patient satisfaction, based on the NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT). Next year this will be expanded to include additional measures – such as adverse events and patient reported outcomes (PROMs), and published for both hospitals and individual consultants.

But before publication we give every opportunity to ensure the quality and accuracy of the data. After collecting the data hospitals have the opportunity to check that the data is accurate – it is important that they trust us to get it right.

PHIN will publish consultant performance measures from next April. Consultants will want is to ensure that their data is right and we will be encouraging them to start to engage with the portal and check their data to ensure that their practice is fairly represented. We want to be as fair as we possibly can to everybody and we are doing a lot of work on engaging with the consultants to tell them that this is coming. We are not going to make judgements we are simply the facilitator to enable them to get accurate high quality data onto the PHIN website. We want to help provide clarity around healthcare data and healthcare information specifically around the 11 performance measures outlined by the CMA. The data is aggregated performance measures which provide really helpful information, context and benchmarks from which patients can arm themselves for conversations with their GP’s or referring clinicians.

Our readers will be particularly interested in the data that will be published at consultant level. Can you outline the deadlines?

At the end of April 2018 we will publish performance measures for consultants. Before that we are engaging in a process of communicating much more clearly and openly with consultants, encouraging them to come onboard with our online portal from this summer.

The consultant portal will launch this summer, it is available for hospitals now and they are already using it and we are seeing a lot of benefit for them in terms of checking and improving the accuracy of the data. The consultant portal has been piloted and the feedback from that was positive, the idea is to give the consultants six months to enable them to do their checks before publication.

Traditionally there has been little transparency in the publication of consultant fees. How are you working with doctors to ensure that what is published is valuable to patients and fair to consultants?

Absolutely – transparency in terms of fees (Article 22) is needed, and this is one of the areas the CMA identified in their report. It is a complicated area, one thing we are very sure about is that we are going to be working closely with the medical profession to come up with the best way of doing this. But the important thing is, with the publication of consultant fees now delayed till April 2019, we have been given the time to do this properly.

We have already gone out and piloted the portal once and we have used that feedback to make sure it is user friendly and to tidy it up as much as possible. When it is rolled out to consultants of course it will no longer be in pilot phase, but we are always open to improvements and want to work proactively and productively with consultants. Working with them over the next year we will be introducing them to their data and making sure that that portal is as robust and user friendly and helpful to them as possible. As we progress both for hospitals and consultants, it is very much making sure that they can check their data for accuracy and they can see what the performance measures (Article 21) are going to look like and how that has come to be.

As we move forward there is a real question in there about what other value consultants can get from this data. Consultants are generally very proud of their practice in the private sector and being able to see and publish their data is an important step forward. All doctors now have revalidation and this will be a chance for them to present a complete set of their data to appraisers, that is going to be very helpful.

– Andrew Vallance-Owen

Designated Medical would like to thank Andrew for taking the time to answer our questions.

For more information visit https://www.phin.org.uk/

Private Healthcare Information Network

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