WITH health costs soaring well above inflation, private hospitals have been encouraged to find ways to drop prices.
The cost of private medical care, according to Discovery Health chief executive Dr Jonathan Broomberg, has risen by more than 5% above inflation over the past couple of years.
Broomberg was speaking to members of the private healthcare industry at the annual Hospital Association of South Africa conference last week.
His request for innovative ways to be found to drop healthcare costs come as Nigel Edwards, KPMG's director of global healthcare reform, said the way healthcare was provided needed to change to reduce rocketing costs.
Edwards said hospitals in the 1920s – with rows of waiting outpatients – looked similar to the many hospitals of today.
"New business models to reduce costs are needed," he said.
Broomberg said from 2008 to last year, the cost of private healthcare had increased annually by 10.9% – well over the 5.5% average consumer price index.
He said the increasing admission rate, growing disease burden, increased use of new technologies and ageing population was adding to the continual rise in health care costs.
Discovery was investigating ways to reduce the cost of medical treatment.
Broomberg proposed the establishment of high-volume surgery centres for specific surgeries to reduce costs.
"A pilot project done by Discovery showed that when hip replacement surgery was done at a centre developed only for hip replacements, costs were reduced by R30000.
"The length of patients' hospital stay decreased by nearly half. High- volume surgery can reduce the cost of care. It is criminal that we are not doing more of this," he said.
"We can change the delivery model of healthcare from the sole use of general hospitals to include high-volume surgery centres."