Hospitals target more revenue
THE days of free public medical care for those who can afford to pay are coming to an end as the government steps up efforts to collect every cent from patients.
In preparation for the National Health Insurance (NHI), R20-million has been set aside to improve revenue collections at Gauteng's four biggest public hospitals.
Molefi Mosenogi, coordinator of the Gauteng NHI Task Team in charge of implementing the pilot project, said the province's four main hospitals - Chris Hani Baragwanath, Steve Biko Academic, Charlotte Maxeke and George Mkhari - had been allocated R5-million each to improve collection of patients' medical fees.
Last year, the department said that their hospitals were owed over R1.5-billion.
Medical aids and other funders owed the department more than R167-million, while other departments and other provinces owed between R4.4-million and R672-million.
"If you go to a private hospital, you will realise that they just punch your details into the computer and they are able to bill you. With us the system is mostly still manual and we end up losing a lot of money. The money will be used to make sure that we have a digital way of collecting revenue," Mosenogi said.
He said facilities in the province needed to be improved for the NHI.
This weekend, Gauteng MEC for health Ntombi Mekgwe announced that the province had been allocated R31.5-million for the pilot project in Pretoria.
Pretoria is one of the 10 pilot sites that are being funded by a R1-billion conditional grant announced by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan during his Budget Speech.
The sub-districts in Pretoria have a combined population of 848199, which is 31% of the population of the Tshwane district municipality. Roll-out to the rest of the district will be increased over a three-year period.
The first phase of the pilot project will include the refurbishment of Tambo, Mandisa Shiceka, Kekanastadt, Suurman, Dilopy, New Eersterus, Kekana Gardens, Ramotse and Jubilee Gateway clinics, among others.
"The pilot project is aimed at ensuring that staff attitudes change, that clinics have equipment and that all the facilities are in order. In terms of offering care, most of our facilities are in order. We are strengthening the system to see what works and what does not work.
"According to norms and standards, there is supposed to be a clinic every 5km radius but that is not the case in some rural areas, especially in the former Metsweding [district municipality]," Mosenogi said.
He said that when his team visited communities, most patients complained about waiting times at the clinics.
"When we visit our clinics we realise that in terms of care, they meet the criteria but there is still more that needs to be done in terms of facilities," he said.