Practitioner perceptions about optometric networks in South Africa

African Vision and Eye Health

Field Value
Title Practitioner perceptions about optometric networks in South Africa
Creator Maluleke, Simon A. Moodley, Vanessa R.
Subject Optometry; Vision science; networks; managed care organisations; designated service providers; Medical Schemes Act; Health Professions Council of South Africa; South African Optometric Association
Description Background: Private healthcare in South Africa is largely financed by medical schemes. Optometrists reluctantly contract with administrators and networks to service these patients, despite them feeling networks are undesirable and exploitative. Networks contend that various mechanisms employed are necessary to ensure sustainability and prevent fraud, wastage and abuse. A working relationship between practitioners and networks should ideally be cordial and appreciated by each party as being mutually beneficial to the success of their respective businesses.Aim: To assess practitioners’ knowledge and perceptions regarding optometric networks.Setting: The study was conducted amongst optometric professionals in the private sector in South Africa.Methods: A descriptive, mixed-method study was conducted using a semi-structured questionnaire. Interviews with senior personnel from the networks were conducted.Results: Approximately 77% of respondents belonged to networks with 91% being knowledgeable about networks and their role within optometry. Opticlear had 72% members, while Iso Leso and preferred provider negotiators (PPN) had 67% and 41%, respectively. Most optometrists (69%) neither believed in the need for networks nor that they provide value to the profession, while 94.7% joined networks merely to receive direct payment and access patients, with no other benefits noted.Conclusion: Practitioners reluctantly contract to networks for direct payment and to access patients. Furthermore, practitioners feel that networks bully and victimise them while networks highlight their responsibility to reduce healthcare costs and negative practices of fraud, waste and abuse.Contribution: Providing sustainable, cost-effective and quality eye care services requires collaboration between networks and practitioners and appreciating each other’s roles in the delivery of eye care services. 
Publisher AOSIS
Date 2023-04-21
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — Mixed methods research (survey and interviews)
Format text/html application/epub+zip text/xml application/pdf
Identifier 10.4102/aveh.v82i1.810
Source African Vision and Eye Health; Vol 82, No 1 (2023); 7 pages 2410-1516 2413-3183
Language eng
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Coverage South Africa 2020 Registered Optometric professionals
Rights Copyright (c) 2023 Simon A. Maluleke, Vanessa R. Moodley