This is How SA Medical Aids Can Save Over R3bn Per Year with Reduced Out-of-Hospital Costs Right Now

One simple step, instantly lowered out-of-hospital costs and a 1% savings towards hospitalisation, ER visits, specialist visits and pharmacy, plus: R3bn’s worth of better healthcare for all their members.

Ophthalmologist's Department

Every medical aid has a vested interest in lowering healthcare costs.

Both for the member – the lower the cost, the more healthcare service benefits the medical aid can supply them – and the fund itself: reduced costs lower the amount they must pay for claims, improving their financial stability and profitability.

And, analysing the Council for Medical Scheme (CMS)’s most recent Industry Report, our team noticed an opportunity for the entire industry to lower out-of-hospital costs and create an industry-wide cost saving of over R3bn per year.

Here’s how it works:

How Medical Aids Can Save R3bn+ Per Year on Out-of-Hospital Costs

Collectively, South African medical schemes paid out R224.1 billion in benefits in 2022. 

And we know that, historically, out-of-hospital costs such as GP visits make up about 5% of that total cost, which is R11.2bn. And we also know that the average cost for an out-of-hospital GP visit was R424.59 in 2020.

That figure has no doubt increased in the last 4 years (some say it’s as high as R500 these days), but even if we compare that outdated figure against the cost of routing the member through the Udok doctors platform, you see a stark price difference:

  • Normal out-of-hospital GP cost: R424.59
  • Udok online doctor’s cost: R320

Udok is at least 25% cheaper than the 2020 average – over 40% cheaper than the estimated rates of today.

Now, if you consider medical aids normally pay about 5% of their total benefit payments (R224.1bn) on out-of-hospital GP visits, that’s R11.2bn per year.

If medical aids were to run all those out-of-hospital GP visits through Udok instead, which they totally can because Udok is the fastest-growing and most complete online doctor platform, they’d cut those R11.2bn expenses by 25%-40%, which is a saving of between R2.8bn and R4.48bn per year, industry-wide.

Naturally, individual medical aids will save different amounts.

This is why many SA medical schemes have already started shifting their members’ out-of-hospital GP visits to the Udok platform.

One example of this is Medshield, one of SA’s ten largest medical schemes i.t.o. total investible assets.

Medshield Adopts Online Doctors Consults as an Advanced Healthcare Benefit

In November 2023, Medshield announced nurse and online GP consults in its flagship SmartCare member benefit, in partnership with Clicks and Udok.

Medshield members with Smartcare now have access to a one-stop-shop service, where they can consult a doctor, a nurse and get their prescription filled, all in one place.

Members can see a nurse at their Clicks pharmacy, and the nurse can then connect them to a doctor at Clicks via Udok if needed (Udok is Click’s provider for online doctor consults), and the entire system is integrated so that the Udok doctor can have any prescriptions dispensed right at the pharmacy. Also see how to get a prescription at Clicks.

What’s more, if the patient already knows beforehand they’ll need to see a doctor, they can just directly access the Udok platform via their phone or computer at home – without having to leave the house. Ditto for automating repeat prescriptions.

It’s an amazingly convenient system for the member, but the reduced GP cost also creates a cost saving for the scheme.

PS: Did you know you can now see a Udok doctor on medical aid and no co-payment?

Why This is Beneficial for Everyone

There are quite a few online and virtual doctor consult services that have been developed in South Africa since Covid. But Udok was the first (2018) and is the undisputed leader in terms of the platform and user experience.

Udok is the fastest-growing online doctor platform in South Africa – where other platforms are still struggling with adoption, Udok has seen an average of 100% growth in usage per year, every year – mostly due to the platform’s advanced features:

  • Digital medical record keeping
  • Faster access to a doctor
  • Complete transparency
  • Established pharmacy network
  • Established lab network
  • Reduced costs
  • Data security

And it's already at scale - There are over 200 GPs serving patients daily on the Udok network, and we're adding new doctors every week because the system is also a turnkey practice administration tool for them.

“Possibly the biggest benefit apart from the cost-savings is that our platform is built by doctors for patients and is just so much more mature than what’s currently available out there,” says Udok founder, Dr Piet Van Niekerk.

“You can test it for yourself by timing how long it takes for you to actually reach a doctor on any other platform and then compare it with ours…

“With Udok, you just go onto the Udok online portal with any device, from anywhere in the country, login or create an account in seconds and speak to a doctor within a minute – there’s just no other platform that connects you with a GP that fast.”

How to Get Udok for Your Members Today

“If I was a medical scheme or on the CMS, I’d look at that potential R3bn per year saving and say: ‘Well, I want that immediately’, so we’ve set it up that medical aids can get in touch with our team or me personally and get it done right now,” says Dr van Niekerk.

For Instant Udok:

Contact Udok via the website

Phone +27 21 205 3737


Also see: How to find a top doctor near me.

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