Medibank has taken a 49 per cent shareholding in East Sydney Private Hospital and said it will initially invest $8.8 million in the business to fund capital investment and operational costs required for the hospital to scale its short stay model of care.
Medibank said its investment is part of a broader strategy to support hospitals and doctors to enable a short stay model of care that reduces unnecessary time spent in the hospital and allows patients to recuperate in their own home with support from a multi-disciplinary care team.
The initial short stay focus will be for patients requiring joint replacements, with a view to other major procedures being added over time.
Medibank Group Executive Healthcare and Strategy Dr Andrew Wilson said, “For years we have talked about the need to address one of the greatest challenges in private healthcare, affordability. Our investment in East Sydney Private Hospital and its doctors is aimed at supporting doctors to deliver a short stay model of care that is already widely available at scale in other health systems internationally and for which there is a strong body of evidence.
“The short stay model minimises the time a patient spends in hospital, where clinically appropriate, by giving them the option to recover and rehabilitate in the comfort of their home with full in-home support by nurses, allied health practitioners and personal carers.
“It is a doctor-led alternative to traditional long hospital stays that can help alleviate pressure on the health system, health insurance premiums and eliminates medical out-of-pocket costs.”
East Sydney Private Hospital Medical Director Dr Peter Kalish welcomed Medibank’s investment.
“This investment will allow the hospital to fully fund the capital equipment and operations required to further drive this innovative shift in care to one that aims to deliver the optimal outcome for patients in the most cost-effective way,” said Dr Kalish.
“All our orthopaedic and other surgeons are extremely positive about the benefits that will be derived from Medibank’s investment in East Sydney Private Hospital.
“A broad range of international studies into the short stay model report benefits such as fewer hospital stay related complications with no impact on hospital readmissions, and higher patient satisfaction.
“We look forward to making the model available to more Medibank customers as well as other health funds, who we will continue to work with just as we’ve always done,” he said.
Medibank said its customers have already been undergoing short stay joint replacements in Melbourne with no medical out-of-pocket costs.
The short stay joint replacement model with no medical out-of-pocket costs will also soon be available in Brisbane and Adelaide, it said.
“We want more of our customers and their doctors to have the flexibility to choose where they receive their care, and for that choice to take pressure off the health system which continues to face unsustainable increases in health costs,” added Dr Wilson.
“This shift in the way healthcare is delivered in Australia is a very positive change and we’re delighted more patients will be able to access a short stay option as a result of our investment in East Sydney Private Hospital.”