Why is health insurance so difficult to understand?
The Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN)
The Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that publishes trustworthy, comprehensive data to help patients make informed decisions regarding their treatment options, and to help providers improve standards.
PHIN was developed in 2012 to provide patients with straightforward, easy-to-understand information about the quality and safety of care in the private healthcare sector. Their service is independent, not-for-profit and free to patients and the public.
Having initially worked with 200 independent hospitals to develop methods for collecting and publishing information, since April 2015 PHIN has had a legal mandate from the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to work with all hospitals that provide privately funded healthcare, including NHS hospitals.
This was a response to the CMA’s Private Healthcare Market Investigation that concluded that patients considering private healthcare did not have sufficient information available to them to make informed choices. The resultant Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014 from the CMA imposed a duty on hospitals to submit data to PHIN, and for PHIN to publish this data as 11 performance measures, including key safety and quality indicators such as mortality rates, readmission rates, unplanned patient transfers and patient feedback.
From its conception, PHIN has had a balanced and independent approach to governance and this was recognised and formalised by the CMA in 2014. Their Board of Directors reflects a range of stakeholder interests, including patients, hospital operators, doctors, insurers and the wider healthcare community. Board members are required to declare any potential conflict of interests and may not be directors or employees of any member organisation.
PHIN’s ultimate aim is to produce helpful and accessible information on the quality of care provided by private hospitals and consultants and, where possible, this will be directly comparable to NHS data. Currently, as part of this unique project, they are collecting and analysing the data from over 500 hospitals and 12,500 consultants. The information will be published as it becomes available, with a proposed completion date for the process of April 2017.