It was another important step towards increasing price transparency in the private healthcare sector.
All consultants with a private practice in the UK are required by Article 22 from the 2014 Competition and Markets Authority order to provide their consultation and procedure fees to PHIN.
What surprises me as I compile this article is that there are around 10,000 practising consultants in the UK who are still yet to submit fee information to the organisation.
Changed climateWell, I understand that there is a natural reticence to say what you charge when it can be compared with all your local and national competitors. Financial matters have traditionally been private. But we do need to acknowledge the changing climate.
In my experience, patients are more likely to choose a consultant whose information is readily available. They will prefer the peace of mind of no cost surprises, and so a breakdown of your costs is important information you can provide a patient.
OK, so my initial experience with submitting data to the PHIN portal was not a positive one.
It was impossible for me to submit my fees due to faults in the system. I spoke to the team and let them know I was having difficulties and was assured that I would be able to update my fees soon.
Help availableA few weeks later, I tried again. This time, I was able to access my profile and add my fees to the PHIN website.
The process was simple and easy, and assistance can always be found in PHIN’s engagement team, who are very vigilant.
My favourite feature of the system was the ability to submit only one set of fees that could be applied to all the hospitals I work at without any extra labour.
What PHIN is doing can only be a positive step forward for the private healthcare sector. Information is good, as patients appreciate transparency in all aspects of their care.
PHIN’s publication of doctors’ fees is only the first step in this journey towards far greater pricing transparency in private healthcare. It is also asking hospitals to provide information about their package prices, giving patients a much better sense of the likely cost of treatment.
Consultants can submit their fee information to PHIN on the PHIN online portal: https://portal.phin.org.uk
Professor Frank Chinegwundoh MBE is a consultant urological surgeon with Barts Health NHS Trust & Harley Street, London. Professor Chinegwundoh was awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list 2013, for services to the NHS. This blog was first published in Independent Practitioner Today. You can find his profile here.