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A first in the South African medical aid industry

Posted in Medshield Medical Scheme   |   July 11th, 2019

A FIRST in South Africa, Medshield Medical Scheme introduces SmartCare – offering members convenient access to nurse-led primary healthcare consultations and Videomed doctor consultations from enabled pharmacies and clinics.

11 July 2019, Johannesburg – Medshield Medical Scheme today launched an innovative benefit that combines the personal human touch with the latest healthcare technology. “At Medshield, we exist for our members and as part of our ethos we’re always looking for innovative solutions to enhance the value to our members” says Medshield’s Principal Officer, Thoneshan Naidoo. “And that’s exactly what SmartCare promises – the ideal balance between affordability, high quality of care and convenient access to healthcare. Medshield is the first medical scheme in South Africa that has integrated the service as a new benefit for all their members, at no extra cost.”

“South Africa has one of the best private healthcare systems in the world, however we have been slow to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution in healthcare that has become an integral part of a number of global healthcare systems. We believe that concepts such as Medshield SmartCare will bridge the digital healthcare gap in South Africa and pave the way for increased adoption of telemedicine and mHealth. Technology has the potential to lower the barriers to high quality private healthcare and conveniently save our members precious time in their busy schedules – ultimately it is a win-win situation for all stakeholders.”

Medshield’s SmartCare is powered by Healthforce, a clinic practice management system that offers Videomed, a nurse-led telemedicine system. Videomed is designed around the experience and capabilities of registered nurses. Using Videomed, the nurse can call a doctor into the consultation via a real-time video connection. The doctor can see the patient and nurse, as well as all examinations and investigations conducted by the nurse, providing diagnoses and prescriptions as necessary. This empowers the nurse to provide better care for our members through innovative yet accessible technology.

“Working with Medshield to bring this initiative to their members has been a pleasure. All our discussions with them have been focussed around how they can get better care to all their members, while making their member’s benefits go further. They are relentless in pursuing innovative ways of using technology to achieve this. We are proud that Healthforce is one of their first major initiatives that they are implementing in this space. And it is a reflection on their forward-thinking that they are the first scheme to be reimbursing for this service.” Says Saul Kornik, CEO & Co-founder, Healthforce.

The need for healthcare is mostly unpredictable, and medical scheme members often find themselves in a situation where their benefits are running low towards the end of a year. Medshield SmartCare is an innovative programme that will allow Medshield members to stretch their benefits, whilst providing them with the quality healthcare cover that they have become accustomed to. In addition, SmartCare-enabled clinics operate according to the hours of the pharmacy in which they are located, which means that members now have access to qualified healthcare providers after hours (up to 7pm on weekdays) and importantly over weekends, and do not require an appointment. To ensure continuous quality of care, the consultation notes can be shared with the patient’s regular GP.

Unless it is a trauma situation, members can now visit SmartCare-enabled clinics instead of hospital emergency rooms for acute and chronic conditions.

This is how Medshield SmartCare works:

  • A Medshield member can visit any SmartCare-enabled clinic, for a variety of primary healthcare needs such as acute conditions, wellness checks, health risk assessments, vaccinations or chronic medication prescriptions.
  • At the clinic, which is nurse-led, the patient is seen by a professional registered nurse who will perform an assessment and conduct a full medical history and a clinical examination.
  • The nurse is able to advise the patient on the required over-the-counter (OTC) medication, which the patient can obtain from the pharmacy.
  • If further treatment is required, the nurse can video-call a general practitioner for a consultation. The doctor can view all the information in the nurse’s assessment and with assistance of the nurse conduct the consultation, recommend further tests, write a prescription, and provide a sick note and/or a referral letter if necessary. The system also allows the nurse to immediately upload and share relevant images directly with the doctor during the consultation.
  • The nurse can print all the written documentation provided by the doctor and the patient is able to fill their prescription immediately.
  • A member’s journey from the time they enter the pharmacy to the time they leave with their medicines can take as little as 45 minutes

The SmartCare innovation does not replace the need for general practitioners (GPs) in any way, shape or form. Healthforce doctors, which are available through Videomed consultations, create new opportunities for referrals to local GPs by dealing with basic medical conditions and referring cases that require physical examination by a doctor to local GPs.

Medshield SmartCare also allows for Health Risk Assessments, which identifies any underlying conditions that require the treatment of a GP. Notably, in 2018 Medshield’s Health Risk Assessments identified 568 members that were not aware that they had Cardiovascular Disease, 395 members who were not aware that they had Diabetes and 148 members that did not know they were HIV positive.

“By better harnessing the skills of nurses, integrated with the technological support of Healthforce’s Videomed, we are able to achieve our goal of providing our members with enhanced value for their contributions whilst supporting our General Practitioner network.”

Not only are the Videomed general practitioners fluent in 10 of South Africa’s official languages, but they also have special interests in a number of disciplines including paediatrics, family medicine, geriatric care, anaesthetics, rheumatology, drug rehabilitation, orthopaedics, and pain management. Our members if required can also easily obtain a referral to see a specialist by visiting a SmartCare clinic.

There are presently more than 55 SmartCare-enabled clinics situated in six provinces. However, says Naidoo, Medshield SmartCare is an evolving service offering convenience of a ‘1-stop’ primary healthcare facility that will be rolled out to more sites in all nine provinces in the coming months.

“Medshield SmartCare is good value for our members and their pockets. It better leverages primary healthcare in the way it is intended to work and we’re extremely excited to offer our members excellent medical care, along with greater convenience than before,” states Naidoo.

“Our new offering, therefore, certainly lives up to its name: it provides Smart medical Care.”

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