Honeysuckle Health authorised to establish buying group

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Honeysuckle Health has received authorisation from the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) to establish a health services buying group for other healthcare payers.

Private Healthcare Australia CEO Dr Rachel David said this outcome is an opportunity for the healthcare system to improve choice and competition leading to better healthcare outcomes and lower costs.

Honeysuckle Health is a specialist data science company. It was founded in December 2019 as a joint venture between nib and global health services company Cigna.

“While not wanting to be involved in clinical decision making, health funds have a role that extends well beyond simply passively paying claims. They have an interest in advocating for the highest quality and most cost-effective care for their members, and in helping their members stay healthy and informed about their medical care,” said Dr David.

Honeysuckle Health chief executive Rhod McKensey said, “This is an important milestone in Honeysuckle Health’s journey to deliver better health outcomes and better value for consumers.  We look forward to working collaboratively with the provider community to create better pathways to better health.

“In healthcare, there are significant variation in costs, clinical outcomes, and patient and provider experience. Some patients would be better off out of a hospital setting, perhaps doing hip or knee rehabilitation at home, or even working with their clinician to continue a program like cardio-rehab at home.

“Delivering good outcomes means looking at the types of programs and services, along with hospital and clinician costs, that are going to provide optimum outcomes. We will work together with all provider groups, and with the AMA in particular, as we continue our efforts to drive towards better health.”

The ACCC approval was delayed after two groups lodged an application for review through the Australian Competition Tribunal in October last year.  The Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand and the National Association of Practising Psychiatrists withdrew their applications after a mutually agreed deed of settlement was reached last month. The AMA had joined the proceedings as an interested party.

In its original determination, the ACCC said Honeysuckle Health’s purpose is likely to result in public benefits.

It will provide more choice for insurers and other healthcare payers, increasing competition between buying groups, and giving participants more input into contracts and better information.

In its determination, the ACCC said the Honeysuckle Health buying group is likely to result in public benefits by providing greater choice for insurers and other healthcare payers, increasing competition between buying groups and giving participants improved access to information that would assist them to develop and offer more competitive insurance products and services.