Health insurer NIB is set to launch a controversial and long-mooted website that rates and compares health professionals such as dentists, optometrists and chiropractors

NIB to launch healthcare directory

October 4, 2013

Madeleine Heffernan

Health insurer NIB is set to launch a controversial and long-mooted website that rates and compares health professionals such as dentists, optometrists and chiropractors. While previous plans were shouted down by industry bodies, NIB has confirmed that the site – called Whitecoat – will be launched later this year. Whitecoat will provide a directory of healthcare sites, customer service and comparative cost data. It will not cover general practitioners and medical specialists. The Australian Medical Association argues that one person’s bad experience is more likely to be aired than the good experiences of 99 people.”We expressed concerns about this some time back,” federal AMA president Steve Hambleton told BusinessDay.

”When you provide a forum for people to rate practitioners, inevitably you’re inviting people who want to berate practitioners.”

Karin Alexander, president of the Australian Dental Association, said the group had advised its members to opt out of Whitecoat and was waiting on guidance of whether the site would breach laws banning registered dentists from using testimonials in advertising. She said it would difficult for the public to appreciate ”reasonable reasons for differences in costs”. But NIB’s managing director, Mark Fitzgibbon, said the purpose of Whitecoat was to help all consumers make better purchasing decisions. ”We expect the site to be very popular,” he said.

NIB has been writing to members asking them to rate their recent experience with an allied health provider.

Members are encouraged to fill in a survey questioning how likely or unlikely they are to recommend the practitioner to family and friends over the next 12 months, and to offer ”any feedback for NIB that could improve products and services”.

In its 2013 results, NIB said claims paid for ”ancillary” or extras services had increased 11.4 per cent to $274.5 million.

Ancillary services rebated by NIB are dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropractic, natural therapies, osteopathy, pharmacy, podiatry and acupuncture.

”Dental utilisation has increased since the cessation of the government’s Chronic Disease Dental scheme on December 1, 2012,” it said. ”The optical market has seen increased competition over the past few years, potentially putting downward pressure on service costs. Physio and chiro inflation generally moves in line with changes in service costs. Natural therapies continue to rise in popularity among consumers, experiencing the highest rates of utilisation inflation.”

Grahame Danaher, managing director of insurer Westfund, said members were ”generally happy” with their allied health providers.

Another health services feedback site, Patient Opinion Australia, said it had amassed almost 350 stories since starting in March 2012.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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