Between two waves

As we reflect on the year to date, the national story has been about the delivery of vaccines between two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. The second wave ended around January 2021 and the third wave is upon us. It is encouraging that healthcare workers were able to receive vaccines and that this has rolled out to the public. Of course, there is much to be done and registrations are low, but we wish great progress to all those involved. The pandemic is not over, and this newsletter aims to share some helpful webinars, blogs and a case study that EthiQal has been involved in during this time, as well as some business updates.

Related to the pandemic, the first article is a case study produced by our medico-legal team, exploring the legalities and clinical considerations of prescribing ivermectin. This was widely publicised by the press and received significant attention. Two other articles explore considerations for healthcare practitioners during this pandemic time.

Further articles provide useful, fundamental medico-legal information, related to declarations, informed consent and professional indemnity insurance. I encourage all to brush up on these fundamentals in this quick to read format.  

On the business front, the pandemic meant that we paused many initiatives to focus mainly on two areas: (1) supporting our doctors during COVID-19 and (2) improving client services by consolidating to build a stronger foundation. This was the case last year and remains so to date. We have been re-mapping processes, implementing IT system improvements and employing more people to ensure we build towards a best-in-class insurer, with a personal touch.

Admittedly there have been a few hiccups with our system migration and I thank those who were affected, for their patience. We are excited about the improved functionality that our new system can provide and I am confident this will translate into tangible benefits to all. But the transition is not over – more hard work continues as we roll out phase 2 and 3 to significantly and progressively improve our client service offering over the next few months. More detail will follow as we launch these phases.

Financially, EthiQal continues to do well, with a cautious approach resulting in all income not deployed to cover expenses and claims allocated into reserves. Since the pandemic started, we have had fewer incidents being reported, although the legal demand amounts are higher. Thus, our financials are tracking expectations and we continue to monitor experience to highlight areas where risk mitigation actions can be implemented.

At the group level, progress continues with an exciting new shareholder, with details to be reported soon. This will provide additional capital and cash, providing peace of mind to our valued policyholders who have entrusted us with their long-term insurance needs. Our reinsurance arrangement with Lloyds continues with positive recognition of our approach by our international reinsurers.

Our aim is to continue to support the societies in their medico-legal risk management and quality care initiatives. This year we have extended our support to FoSAS and helped sponsor an amazing video library initiative with APRASSA, amongst other industry initiatives.

I’d like to remind our clients that our webinars and event presentations are available on our website. This now includes our recent topical POPI Act webinar, with the effective date of POPIA imminent on 1 July.

The POPI Act was promulgated back on 26 November 2013 and commenced on 01 July 2020, with a 12-month grace period. The grace period is soon to expire, with the POPI Act to be fully in force from 01 July 2021. We wish to reassure all our partners and policyholders that even before the POPI Act, EthiQal have taken the confidentiality of personal information seriously. We will continue to comply with POPIA requirements and ensure that suitable technical and operational measures are in place to safeguard such information.

Looking ahead, we expect Dr Bettina Taylor’s article on South Africa’s medico-legal experience in the obstetrician and gynaecology sector to be published in July in the SAMJ. We congratulate her on her detailed research and value this adds to the industry.  

Finally, from all of us at the EthiQal team, our thanks again to you for the dedication you have shown to care for the citizens of our country during these times.

Keep safe.