National Health Insurance

The South African public generally and the medical devices and healthcare sectors specifically have reason to be skeptical about the government’s ability to implement national health insurance in this country.  Over the past twenty years we have seen a decline in service and quality in public health, with increasing costs in the private sector.  Not so unique some would say given inequities of the past and ineptitude of the present government.  Animosity between the public and private sectors also doesn’t help the situation.

Never the less, things are happening under the stewardship of the current Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.  In a review of what’s changed over the past year in healthcare legislation we see that a lot has changed, most of it has been in the background, behind the scenes, so to speak.  The hospital revitalization plan has progressed, increasing management capacity and financial controls have been improved, and eleven NHI pilot sites have been established.

Meanwhile in a survey of the most influential business leaders in the Medical Device sector reflect that their operating environment has changed dramatically, while simultaneously supporting their current business models as being optimal and in no need of change!  Quite a contradiction, but in keeping with the “wait and see” attitude of most current players in the sector.  The question remains to be seen if they are able to respond to change – when they recognize it.  Are they going to be able to defend their market position against new entrants, more attune to the changing healthcare needs and market dynamics created by Healthcare Transformation.

Time will tell; but sound advice for today is to build a business model that is agile, able to capitalize on market shifts, whilst being resilient enough to succeed in today’s environment.  This requires a business of parallel capability – one focussed on “business as usual” the other looking to the future, developing and testing future business models – “Business Unusual” perhaps.

Mark Banfield is an independent consultant in Medical Devices and healthcare technology sectors.