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nib: Website criticism gave us a boost

Criticism of a new New Zealand website described as the TripAdvisor of healthcare does not reflect the views of the wider medical community, nib chief executive Rob Hennin said.

Monday, August 6th 2018, 6:00AM

by Susan Edmunds

The insurer has been involved with Whitecoat in Australia for a number of years. It has now launched in New Zealand.

Ian Powell, the executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, said the rating tool was unreliable.

"There's no way you can make any real proper judgment call on a surgeon, for example," he told media.

NZ Medical Association chair Kate Baddock also said bias could influence how healthcare providers were rated.

Hennin said that did not reflect what he had seen of the medical sector’s views.

It had been a benefit to Whitecoat to have that criticism to draw attention to the site, he said. “It created a story that needs to be told.”

But the medical community as a whole was supportive.

“If you want to promote your business this is a really good way to do that.”

GPs could also use it to obtain information about specialists they might refer patients to, he said.

He said nib supported the site because it was pro-consumer and made more information available to people.

It was only similar information to what was available in other sectors, he said.

“IF I was an adviser I would be using it for no other reason than helping customers to be more informed. It’s all about how you can learn more about the choices of provider available.”

The site will soon allow customers to make and pay a claim.

“At the end of the day getting better health outcomes is good for the customer and certainly good for the adviser,” nib said.

Russell Hutchinson, of Chatswood Consulting, said the criticism of Whitecoat was unfair. Doctors’ behaviour would always be subject to the opinions of others, he said.

“Given the power imbalance between patient and doctor that already exist, helping to rectify that even a little has got to be a good thing. Comparisons aren't just for vacuum cleaners, they can - and are - applied to professionals of all kinds. In fact, the more complex the advice process the more information is useful and important.”

Tags: nib

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