CMA appoints firm to provide information on private healthcare and fees

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has approved arrangements proposed by the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) to establish an organisation which will make private healthcare information available via an independent public website.

In its report on the private healthcare market published earlier this year, the CMA found that there was a lack of publicly available information on healthcare performance and fees and this "adversely affected competition in the market."

The CMA has required private healthcare operators and consultants to provide up-to-date information on their performance and fees to an independent information organisation (IO).

The proposals submitted by PHIN for establishing such an IO have now been approved by the CMA.

PHIN is already responsible for managing a website which publishes information on hospitals and consultants, and it will now develop this website to provide the required additional information within the timescale set out in the CMA's order, which was made on 1 October 2014.

It is expected that the information available will become increasingly comprehensive ahead of the requirement for the website and portal to be loaded with all the necessary data and fully operational by 2017.

The information that will be made available through PHIN includes mortality rates, infection rates, the number of patients readmitted to hospital following surgery and the number of patients transferred to an NHS hospital from a private hospital.

It also will include measures of patient satisfaction and measures of improvement in healthcare outcomes following treatment.

The CMA's requirement on publication of consultant fees is currently being challenged in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT.)

If the CMA's decision is upheld then the requirement can be included in the existing timetable and in the meantime consultants will be free to make such information available voluntarily.

Roger Witcomb, who chaired the private healthcare investigation group, said: "This will be the most wide-ranging and significant change to result from our investigation into this market. Patients will be able to access the information they need on performance and fees to make informed choices on where to have treatment and we're pleased to appoint PHIN to carry out this role.

"At present, the information available to private patients lags behind that available in the NHS. Publicly accessible information will make it easier to compare providers and consultants, which will increase competition on costs and performance to the benefit of these paying patients."

He said: "Having appointed PHIN, we will now look to it to make good progress and expect hospitals and consultants will co-operate fully with the requirement to supply the relevant information. Indeed we expect many of these parties will see the benefit in demonstrating to patients that they are happy to be transparent and open about such information."

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