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How can I choose and compare private consultants?

How can I choose and compare private consultants?
The last time I booked a flight, I went on the net, and searched, compared services and prices and booked.... The last time I was looking for insurance I went on the net, and searched, compared products and services and booked.


So, if I want to see a specialist, book a scan, or visit a physiotherapist... why can’t I do the same for private healthcare?


Well the good news is that when the new HarleyStreet.com launches later this year, patients will be able to do just that... via the web or the new Harley Street App. But how will this be viewed by long established Harley Street practitioners who traditionally are loathe to publish how much it costs for a consultation and are reluctant to see a patient who cannot proffer a GR referral letter?


For many years, Harley Street based practitioners and services have relied on traditional referral routes and medical networks to bring them patients and customers. But patient behaviour in purchasing private treatment and services is changing. Patients have become consumers. The web and more recently mobile technology has begun to dominate our lives and the way we buy things. Harley Street and private healthcare is not immune to these changes and cannot ignore what is going on in the world around it. Why can’t a patient easily find out or compare what a surgeon charges for an initial consultation, or how many of a particular type of operation he or she carries out each year or... ultimately what the clinical outcomes are for that operation by that surgeon? The information is available in many cases... why not make it public? Would you buy a car without some idea of its safety record?


Harley Street doctors are losing out

In the international medical travel market, Harley Street has lost out to up and coming destinations across Europe and Asia that are eager to attract patients and are not afraid to promote and sell their wares. Prospective medical travellers can visit web sites comparing destinations, clinics and prices for consultations and surgery. But Harley Street, London and the UK as a whole play little or no part in this marketplace, relying on historical reputation and traditional medical networks to maintain patient flow.

Both in the UK and in the international market, the internet is creating a new kind of healthcare consumer who wants to know what they are buying and what they are getting for their money. Will the private healthcare sector in the UK respond to their quest for information?

This article was first published in Independent Practitioner Today.

Date published: 16 July 2011

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Comments provided below do not represent the views of Intuition Communication. Comments will be published 'as is' and will not be edited by Intuition Communication staff. Intuition Communication is hosting these comments, and is not undertaking an editorial role. However, it is editorial policy to publish comments that have been submitted anonymously. 

About the author

Keith Pollard

Keith Pollard is Managing Director of Intuition Communication, an online publisher in the healthcare sector that operates market-leading web portals such as Private Healthcare UK, the Harley Street Guide, HarleyStreet.com and Surgery Door. Intuition is also active in the online medical travel sector through Treatment Abroad, International Medical Travel Journal and DoctorInternet, the Arabic medical tourism portal. View www.keithpollard.com for my full profile.



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Thank you for this.

The name and background of the specific doctor or surgeon a patient chooses to treat them is only one small part of the equation.

No matter how good those professionals are are, if the organisation within which they are doing their work is not genuinely safe and fit for purpose, the results will be poor and may even be lethal.

The best way to take all of this forward is for hospitals and clinics to put themselves forward voluntarily for independent surveying and accrediting of themselves. The journey to full accreditation includes ensuring that robust systems are in place for the credentialing and continuing professional education and development of medical specialists, as well as reliable systems for ensuring that any and all medical care on offer by healthcare providers is delivered in a safe, evidence-based and ethical way.

This is what independent groups like QHA Trent (UK) and JCI (USA) do. There are costs involved, but working with holistic accreditation organisations (which are independent of governments and their taxpayer-funded regulatory processes) brings and augments transparency and openness to the whole process, and supports the government regulatory processes in getting the job of maximising safety and minimising risk done as effectively as possible.

It would be good to get feedback from the insurance industry and other third party payers, as well as healthcare providers and patients themselves.

(To declare my personal interest, I work with QHA Trent, and the web site is http://www.qha-international.co.uk, while the details of other accreditation schemes can be easily found on the web).

Stephen Green (02/10/2012 14:45:10)

thinks sir
your topic is so effective and very helpful. your topic "How can I choose and compare private consultants?" is very effective and i like this.
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pimjhon jhon (11/11/2011 11:26:56)