Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Innovative Payment Systems

A very interesting 'alternative' payment system (and operating model) is the one practiced by Westgate Health, in western Melbourne.  I am not directly involved with the organisation so am speaking about second hand knowledge, but a look at their website highlights immediately that they are a 'Co-op'. 

The organisation doesn't just engage with patients...its owned by patients!  approximately 5000 community members who are called upon to be board members and who are actively surveyed on a regular basis.

Community member fees are used to subsidise the costs and spread them across the local community, and membership entitles you to a range of benefits, which is a similar model to that utilised successfully within the insurance industry.  The difference with alot of insurance companies is the philosophy and investment back into the organistion as a not-for profit entity.  They highlight on their 'Fees & Payments' page that 'They help cover the costs associated with operating our two clinics. We believe that the Co-op’s philosophy of membership fees provides a more equitable system of providing high-quality health care to the whole community, rather than having to charge a fee for every medical service'.   

By providing this example, I am not implying that the payment system for the wider primary health sector is ok.  I'm providing an example of how one health organisation is using social-innovation to deal with some of the issues raised about the current state of the health system including:
  • being in it for the money more than for improving health  
  • application of quality measures
  • aligning funding systems towards prevention
 I'd love to hear what others think of the pro's and con's of this example.

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