As we near the end of 2021 and celebrate EthiQal’s 5th birthday, I reflect on the past remarkable five years. EthiQal’s foundation documents from 2016 capture the early mission statement as “Committed to protect and defend South African medical practitioners”, which still rings true today. My team and I are all proud to have helped stabilise premiums for some key specialties and look forward to continuing to work with the professional society leaders to help even more doctors, and thus patients, in the years ahead.
As we reflect on the year 2021, our EthiQal story has been one of strengthening our foundations, focusing on client services, continuing growth and supporting education and risk management initiatives within the healthcare profession.
In terms of our foundations, we have successfully migrated to a new IT system. This, together with what is planned for the future, is described in more detail by Varuna Naidoo, senior manager of operations and client services. We have also expanded our senior professional team of lawyers, actuaries and doctors with the appointment of Dr Genevieve Barry to our clinical risk team.
In terms of growth, a recent Healthman/SAPPF survey confirms our five-fold increase in market share since 2017. Former developments will help us to better serve our growing client base.
Financially, EthiQal is stable with a cautious approach, resulting in most income allocated into reserves. This approach aims to ensure EthiQal has a long-term view and will be sustainable for many more quinquennial birthdays. Our reinsurance arrangement with Lloyds continues, at improved terms, recognising our cautious and best-practice approach from our international reinsurers.
We furthermore remain committed to supporting professional societies in their medico-legal risk management and quality care initiatives. Our sponsorships in 2021 ranged from maintenance of a Society App to facilitate member communications and risk management projects to the funding of high quality educational videos in surgical techniques. We have also continued to support Operation Healing Hands and the great work Dr Helene Basson and her team perform every day.
In terms of knowledge-sharing, we are proud to have contributed to the publication of the first empirical study on medicolegal trends in South Africa’s private sector. Based on a detailed analysis of medico-legal case histories, Dr Bettina Taylor, EthiQal’s clinical risk management lead, managed to demonstrate some of the major contributors to claims against obstetricians and gynaecologists in private practice over the past 20 years. Her thesis, ‘A retrospective, observational study of medicolegal cases against obstetricians and gynaecologists in South Africa’s private sector’, was published in the July 2021 edition of the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ).
Articles written by our legal expert, JP Ellis, are available on our website and remain a popular resource. The recently updated versions relating to subpoenas and summonses are some of our consistently most-read articles by clients and the interested public.
The POPI Act came into full effect on 1 July 2021 after a 12-month grace period. We received numerous requests from our practitioners for assistance. FAQs, a webinar recording, a checklist, and other collateral material outlining POPIA and its implications were published on our website to assist policyholders.
Finally, EthiQal’s Doctors’ Day initiative celebrates its fourth year in 2021. Through our “This is why we say thank you” campaign, we have called on the country to express gratitude to you, our doctors, for your bravery and commitment as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll. By sharing their healthcare hero stories on the dedicated Doctors’ Day webpage, five lucky entrants will each receive R1 000 in cash. Some of the ‘’thank you’’ messages from the public can be viewed here. More importantly, EthiQal has donated R10 000 to the Healthcare Workers Care Network – a nationwide healthcare worker support network to provide care to the caregivers.
On this note I would like to add my personal thank you to every healthcare worker in the country who has cared for the sick on the frontline during another challenging year of the pandemic.
Keep safe and all the best over December and into the new year.