Primary to set up private billing division with MD support

Listed medical centre and diagnostic provider Primary Health Care has established a private billing division that will be run separately from its large bulk billing medical centre business following a restructure of the company's executive management.

Henry Bateman, son of the late founder Ed Bateman and formerly general manager of the medical centres division, has left the company for personal reasons, allowing CEO Peter Gregg to separate it into a bulk billing division led by GP and current chief clinical officer John Houston, and a private billing division led by former Qantas executive Maxine Jaquet.

Primary reported healthy revenues of $165.3 million for its medical centres for the first six months of the financial year in its recent half-yearly report, but also warned of increasing financial pressures from the Medicare rebate indexation freeze.

In a statement to the stock exchange, Mr Gregg said that while bulk billing had been a core philosophy of the company and had served it well, “diversification of our revenue stream is particularly important as we look to grow in an environment where government-funded health care is under constant pressure.”

Mr Greg said Ms Jacquet had been appointed to develop a private billing medical centre model and brand. “Success in this area goes hand in hand with our goal of delivering patient-centric care supported by software developments from our MedicalDirector division,” he said.

Primary signalled last year that it was looking for a strategic partner to help exploit the potential of MedicalDirector to increase income from data analytics and eHealth. The MD division has also diversified and last year won a contract with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to provide medical content for clinicians.

Its publishing and knowledge service this week launched a new digital edition of the Paediatric Injectable Guidelines, developed in association with the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.

MedicalDirector told staff last year that it could potentially sell off between 10 and 90 per cent of its assets and interested parties have been doing due diligence. However, no buyer or investor has emerged publicly as yet.

Rumours have been floating for several years that Telstra Health had been in discussions to buy MedicalDirector, but a Telstra spokesman firmly denied that an offer had been made.

The news comes at an interesting time for corporate general practice, with the other major player, Sonic Healthcare, which runs the IPN chain of medical centres, investing recently in shared care planning tool cdmNet and telehealth provider GP2U.

Posted in Australian eHealth

Tags: MedicalDirector, Primary Health Care

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