The private healthcare industry has proven its resilience during the toughest times when it is needed the most. Data from the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) published in October 2020 shows steady industry recovery chiefly driven by trauma and orthopaedics, general surgery, and ophthalmology, with private admitted care recovering to more than two-thirds of 2019 levels.
At the height of the pandemic in April last year, private activity was down an estimated 86% on the same month in 2019 but by September, activity was down by only 13% year-on-year. Considering that the COVID crisis put unprecedented pressure on our health system and saw private consultants move to support the NHS in dealing with the pandemic thereby creating their own backlog, this speed of recovery is outstanding.
COVID-19 has spawned some key trends including an increase in PMI enquiries from those concerned about the NHS waiting times plus a stronger sense of our own health, where one in five Brits – an estimated 17 million people – want to take action to improve their long-term health and wellbeing, and make smarter health decisions. Both of these trends point to one key constant – an increased awareness around private healthcare and putting the best possible protection in place for individuals, families and employees.
From an evergreen perspective, the quality of private treatment and service remains unparalleled. The PHIN annual report 2019-20 shows that the number of patients reporting a positive outcome from their private treatment remained “overwhelmingly positive”. The industry has also responded remarkably to the challenges of COVID-19 and recently announced a continued commitment to fine-tune the quality and value of their service in line with consumer needs.
Providers have responded swiftly and effectively to fast-changing consumer needs during COVID-19 – in particular, the reduced mobility associated with lockdowns and social distancing has seen the industry respond with major investment in digital growth to improve the overall quality and speed of the online experience. Innovations include efforts to reduce the admin of making claims by making more documentation accessible online and streamlining application portals by, for example, reducing the number of forms that need to be filled in.
The industry has also shown great awareness of the type of value-added services it has brought to market. This includes virtual GP services and mental health helplines providing fast, easy access to support which is essential during these panicked times. The introduction of other value-added services responds to ongoing pressing needs including cardiac support lines and musculoskeletal triage/helpline services, two areas that were paramount prior to the pandemic and remain so.
As we approach what some have coined a “burnout epidemic” since the third national lockdown began in January, the value of private healthcare is evident. For employers, this means having the very best provisions in place to swiftly and effectively deal with increased cases of absenteeism and work avoidance typically associated with this occupational disease.
It also means providing the benefits that your employees want and need. This will, in turn, result in stronger workplace culture, increased engagement and a company that is better equipped to prevent burnout to begin with. Recent research found that companies with ‘thriving cultures’ are currently experiencing just a 1% drop in engagement. For non-thriving cultures, it’s 52% – the return on investment when providing valuable benefits making employees feel valued and cared for is clear.
For individuals and families, the value of healthcare means peace of mind and invaluable reassurance that you have fast-tracked access to the highest quality of care – you’ll be able to speak to a professional more quickly for faster diagnosis and treatment, meaning the best possible prognosis and the fastest possible return to normal life. This standard of service is especially appreciated during difficult times but is just as valuable when life goes back to normal, because none of us can take our health for granted and it always makes sense to have the very best protection in place.
While many people are struggling with financial worries, the industry innovations have seen more flexible solutions and more options for lower-cost policies to cater to different budgets. For information and guidance with individual, family or workplace private healthcare policies, contact our team.