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Practice Management Applications in the new normal

March 3, 2021

Practice management applications (PMA) or billing applications are essential for the efficient running of a medical, dental, or allied professional practice. Many of the PMAs available in the South African market have been around since the nineties, as have switching services. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many practices are in the process of either consolidating the services they offer, merging with other practices, or even closing down. The economic fallout caused by the pandemic is forcing many practices to re-think their business model. This, together with patients either completely dropping or ‘buying down’ on their medical aid plans is causing a shift from traditional practice management behaviours. With this in mind, do PMAs still have a role to play for medical practices in the new normal? 

Let's look the at some of the trends that practices are faced with:

Trend 1: Patients ‘buying down’ on their medical aid plan/unable to afford medical aid.

According to the latest CMS report[1]:

  • The number of scheme beneficiaries only grew by 0.8% between 2018 and 2019
  • There was a reduction in the number of schemes from 83 in 2014 to 78 in 2019

The outlook for the economy in the past five years has adversely affected growth in the number of medical scheme memberships. This has been compounded by sluggish economic growth, the country’s junk investment status, increased unemployment, and poverty rates. This downward trend is based on the 2019/20 report. We will probably see further contraction in insured lives in 2021, brought on more so by the pandemic.

Trend 2: Move towards cheaper in-pharmacy based care

All the major pharmacy groups as well as the independents now offer nurse-based primary care at a fraction of the cost that would normally be charged at a GP.

Trend 3: Ageing GP population:

As GPs get older (coupled to the risks associated with the pandemic), there is a trend towards early retirement and closing down of long-established practices.

These trends result in practices seeing fewer patients as they opt to use cheaper in-pharmacy options, and those that have ‘bought down’ on their medical aid start paying cash for treatment received. The landscape is thus changing, and practices have to adapt to this change.  Furthermore, medical aids are increasingly not footing the complete bill for services provided. Instead, the costs are shifting to the patient.  So, managing cash in your practice is critical for preventing unmanageable bad debt. 

With this in mind, the PMA is a vital tool to ensure that Medical Aid claims can still be submitted and any shortfalls or full payment due by the patient are effectively managed. MedEDI is integrated with a set of tools that enables you to effectively manage cash without the exchange of actual notes and coins. These tools are fully integrated into MedEDI so that allocations to the patient account are seamlessly done. 

The products are:

  • POS+ - integrated solution to a credit card terminal. This ensures that the transaction once approved by the bank is allocated to the patient account without having to do this manually.
  • Link2Pay - this is a cardless tool that allows you to send the patient exact information on amount due. The patient can pay the amount owing via Snapscan / Zapper / Masterpass or via a bank EFT linked to the patient. The entire process is secure and hassle free.

Increasing numbers of practitioners like you are finding PMA essential in the changing practice environment, with the tools necessary to help you manage the changing way in which your patients pay for services. Contact your CGM Account Manager to discuss which options are most appropriate for your practice.   

[1] https://www.medicalschemes.co.za/publications/#2009-3506-wpfd-2019-20-annual-report

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