Argus acquires two medical practices
Health insurer Argus has acquired two medical practices in the first deal of its kind in Bermuda, the company announced last night.
Island Health Services and the Family Practice Group and their approximately 15 doctors will become part of Argus Group Holdings Ltd.
The practices will operate as normal and clients of all health insurers will continue to be welcome. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Alison Hill, chief executive of the Argus Group, described the deal as “a game changer” resulting in a partnership with a “patient-centric approach to healthcare”.
Ms Hill said in an interview: “We felt we could create this ‘better health partnership’ and it would address many of the challenges in our community, as they pertain to the affordability and quality of healthcare. In the past everyone was operating in their own silo.”
She added: “In this partnership our aims and our focus are all aligned. By joining insurance and healthcare together, we aim to make quality care more affordable for more people.”
So will Argus clients get a better deal from the medical practices than those with other insurers?
“Absolutely not,” said Peter Lozier, Argus’s chief executive, Americas.
Mr Lozier continued: “It’s business as usual. Our aim with this acquisition is beyond the scope of just Argus clients.
“Our aim is a better health partnership as a whole and for all Bermudians to see healthcare quality go up and costs go down.”
While there will initially be no change in the operations of the practices, strategies designed to improve service and reduce costs will be announced in the coming months.
Mr Lozier said: “By aligning our efforts and through a physician-led co-ordination of care, we hope to bend the healthcare inflation curve and bring it back in line with the economy.
“It’s just the beginning and we want to show improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and outcomes.
Mr Lozier added: “It’s about the success we can achieve by working together in an open partnership.”
Mr Lozier said the deal heralded a new healthcare delivery model for the island, echoing similar structures in countries including Britain and the United States.
Ms Hill said the insurer’s values and vision were aligned with those of the two acquired practices.
“It was natural for us to become part of the same family,” she said. “We’re all focused on trying to get the same outcomes for our insureds and for their patients.
She added: “Our aim is one and the same.”
Gerhard Boonstra, a director at Island Health Services, said joining with Argus would enable the practice “to leverage the strengths of a larger organisation to help expand our capabilities to their full potential”.
Dr Boonstra said: “This is a chance to positively impact health and help rewrite healthcare in Bermuda.”
He added: “This is a tried and tested formula that we believe will refine and streamline our current system, resulting in better outcomes for all our patients, no matter their insurance provider.”
Louise White, of the Family Practice Group, said: “By joining forces with these two well established Bermudian companies, The Family Practice Group will have the stability and security to continue to serve all our patients and continue to offer the physician-led, patient-centred care that they are used to.”
She added: “The only change ahead is that we will get better together.”
Basil Wilson, a director at Island Health Services, said the practice planned to invest in improvements including enhanced biometric health tracking and health and wellness programmes focused on improving health, not just treating illness.
Argus initially partnered with Island Health Services during the shelter-in-place, when the insurer reintroduced its 24/7 telenurse hotline service.
Mr Lozier said future collaboration between Argus and other healthcare service providers, both on and off island, could be expected.
Ms Hill emphasised there was no intent for Argus to buy a large portion of the island’s medical practices.
“We value strong competition, because we believe it raises everybody’s game,” Ms Hill said.
“That’s certainly our view in terms of the medical community.
“We don’t want to go beyond a particular share of that market, because we want to compete with other well-run practices.”
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