The founder of Australia’s newest general practice corporate says he will pay GPs salaries [instead of commission] so they can get off the “fee-for-service treadmill”.
Dr Kevin Cheng launched Osana last month, with plans to open four Sydney clinics focused on chronic disease care.
He claims they will be “like a Health Care Home but funded properly”.
The four clinics will be used as test sites to demonstrate to potential funders — health insurers and state governments — that GP-led chronic disease care will keep patients away from emergency departments.
Patients will be asked to pay a yet-to-be-determined annual membership fee in return for longer, more frequent consults with GPs and a dedicated team of allied health professionals, Dr Cheng says.
But it won’t work without giving GPs a “clean break from fee-for-services
“The key to success is to get GPs off the activity-based treadmill and remove the incentive to churn through patients.”
The roughly 20 GPs who sign on will be tasked with managing 700 patients each.
Above their base salaries, they will be paid bonuses “if their patients show positive improvements in their health indicators”.
Medicare rebates will still be claimed where appropriate, but the money will be pooled and then channelled into the clinics’ revenue streams.
“GPs I’ve talked to like the idea of getting sick and annual leave benefits and not having to worry about how many patients they see an hour,” Dr Cheng said.
He claims Osana, which will offer a free bus service as well as services such as telehealth, cooking and exercise classes to enrolled patients, will be the most radical attempt yet to create a patient-centred medical home outside the Federal Government’s reforms.
The Sydney GP, a former senior manager at Medibank Private, says he has financial backing from overseas investors who are willing to spend upwards of $15 million without a guaranteed return.
“We’re going our own way because Health Care Homes has lots of compromises and challenges with its implementation,” Dr Cheng says.
“We aren’t just sitting around complaining about Health Care Homes. We are helping to shape the future direction of primary care in this country.”