Bupa to reduce treatment and cost variation for private physiotherapy patients

Bupa to reduce treatment and cost variation for private physiotherapy patients

Bupa Health Insurance is to address the cost and frequency of private physiotherapy treatment to reduce variations for customers. From next week, independent physiotherapy providers will be invited to take part in a national tender to assess the quality and cost of care and the average number of sessions required for particular conditions. Bupa will use any savings to help fund new drugs and treatments for customers.

Following an extensive review, Bupa found a variation of more than 200 percent in the cost of a physiotherapy session which can range from Ł25 to Ł85. The standard NHS rate is around Ł20 for a 30-minute session. Bupa found one example where the overall cost of treatment at an independent practice was double that of another, just a short walk away. There is also a significant difference in the number of physiotherapy sessions to treat for similar conditions varying from one to 16. This causes some Bupa customers to use their available cover sooner than others.

Dr Rebecca Small, assistant medical director for Bupa UK Health Insurance said: Recent changes in the NHS mean that physiotherapists are increasingly being required to demonstrate the effectiveness of what they do in terms of clinical outcomes and cost. No such requirements exist in the independent sector. We want to work with physiotherapists and their representative bodies to address both the variation in the provision of physiotherapy and the cost for private patients so that together we can continue to deliver high-quality, evidence-based care and drive better value for our customers.

We are also increasingly being asked by our customers for more information about the physiotherapists who treat them. Our new approach to physiotherapy will enable us to meet this growing need.

We recognise that the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and Physio First (the trading name for the Organisation of Chartered Physiotherapists in Private Practice) support the view that patients must be given information based on the best available clinical evidence and the best current practice to help them make decision about their treatment plan. Our initiative is designed to offer customers high quality healthcare at affordable prices and, whilst it is disappointing that both organisations have decided not to support it, we respect their position.

Bupa’s new approach to physiotherapy will enable it to continue to offer customers access to high-quality physiotherapy close to where they live, develop a more standardised session length and establish benchmark session rates. To make it easier for physiotherapists to apply, the tender will be conducted online with the outcome published later this year.

Bupa’s focus on physiotherapy is part of a broader review of orthopaedics, the clinical speciality which attracts the most frequent claims. Bupa wants to see whether there are opportunities to work differently with doctors, therapists and hospitals to improve the quality of care for its customers and offer them better value. It has adopted a similar approach for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ophthalmology services which has introduced quality standards for private patients and delivered savings in excess of Ł10m.

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