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Your questions answered - subscriptions, regional office and medicolegal challenges

01 May 2018

Medical Protection’s newly-appointed Regional Director for Asia Harris Shum answers some of your frequently asked questions. He is joined by Dr Ming-Keng Teoh, Head of Medical Services for Asia, who discusses the key medicolegal challenges facing doctors in the region


Harris Shum Medical Protection’s Regional Director for Asia

Is it true that Medical Protection is opening a regional office in South East Asia? 
Yes, the office will open this month. We have listened to your feedback and received the clear message that you want Medical Protection to be more local. 

We’re proud to have supported thousands of healthcare professionals in the region over the past 60 years. Whilst many other organisations have come and gone, we want to continue supporting professionals in Asia for many years to come. 

How does Medical Protection set membership subscriptions? 
When setting subscriptions, we carry out a detailed and robust actuarial assessment of the cost of supporting members in each country. 

This involves looking closely at trends in both the cost of individual claims and the number of claims in each area of practice in your country. This information is then reviewed by an industry-leading actuarial firm, who we commission to ensure that our calculations are as accurate as they can be. 

This is a long and detailed process to ensure we can be confident that Medical Protection collects enough funds from members to meet the needs of doctors in your country. 

Why are some other companies charging less than Medical Protection? 
Companies may offer different products at different terms and conditions and market entry strategies, which lead to price difference. This happens in every industry: new entrants or opportunistic players may enter a market with lower pricing, and then exit it when there are no profits in the short to medium term. However, given that it can be many years between an incident happening and a claim being made, it is crucial that doctors ask themselves whether their provider of professional protection is offering a long-term solution.
 
Medical Protection has decades of experience in dealing with complex clinical negligence cases in Asia. We’re able to use this experience to more accurately price the risks and defend our members when in need. 

Unlike other companies, we have a team of medicolegal experts who are available to respond to your urgent queries and medicolegal emergencies 24 hours a day. As doctors themselves, they can offer impartial advice to help you resolve problems arising from your clinical practice. 

We also provide unique education and risk management to doctors through a series of educational programmes. These workshops and online learning resources provide ongoing learning and development opportunities to help you avoid complaints and claims. These are added benefits of membership with us in addition to your right to request indemnity. 

Healthcare is constantly changing and is rarely straightforward. Our business model ensures flexibility and means we can offer help in unusual circumstances, or where developments in the delivery or regulation of healthcare gives rise to new issues.

What makes Medical Protection membership different to an insurance company? 
I have worked in the insurance sector for almost two decades and can identify many differences between Medical Protection and traditional insurance companies. In the commercial world, traditional insurance companies are profit driven and may enter the market with attractive pricing strategies, leaving the market when claims start to flood in over the subsequent years. 

As a member-focused organisation formed on the principle of doctors for doctors, the entire purpose is to serve you with long term support, advice and protection over the course of your career. Medical Protection has been in Asia for more than 60 years without leaving the market, whereas many insurance companies have come and gone.
 
Will you automatically refuse to renew my membership if I have a claim made against me?
We would not automatically refuse to renew your membership based upon a claim being made against you. Complaints and claims are a recognised risk when practising medicine, and as an established provider of indemnity to the healthcare sector, we understand these risks and want to work with you to help prevent incidents occurring. 

Occasionally, some doctors experience higher risks than their colleagues who work in the same area of practice, often through no fault of their own. In these circumstances, our approach to managing risk is to carefully balance the needs of individual members with those of the whole membership.

What action does Medical Protection take for doctors that have lots of claims made against them? 
In these rare circumstances, we aim to work with the member to identify and reduce the problems they are facing. We may also consider raising their membership subscription to reflect their increased level of risk. If we didn’t act, it would mean that subscriptions for everyone else would have to increase to cover these additional costs. 

It is only in exceptional cases, where a member’s claims history far exceeds the norm of their colleagues, that we would consider ending their membership, or declining to renew it. 

We are owned by members and are well aware of the potential impact such a decision could have on a member’s career. However, we believe that the interests of the majority of members should not be compromised by a small minority who have received a comparatively high volume of claims or complaints, which can have a significant impact on subscriptions.

Dr Ming-Keng Teoh Medical Protection’s Head of Medical Services for Asia

In Medical Protection's experience, what are the common causes of complaints and claims? 
Common reasons for complaints and claims include a failure or delay in diagnosis, or incorrect treatment such as a prescribing error. Poor communication, for example if doctors do not explain treatment options clearly or communicate what they are doing to do, can also be a contributing factor.

What can Medical Protection do to help reduce the number of complaints and claims against doctors? 
We are committed to helping to prevent problems from occurring in the first place, not just helping to resolve a claim or complaint once it has occurred, and we actively work to help reduce the number of complaints and claims being made. Because we believe that prevention is better than cure, we provide resources to individual doctors and partner with healthcare organisations to provide risk management solutions. Through our local knowledge and international expertise, we have a deep commitment to supporting the continuous improvement of healthcare.


More advice
To keep abreast of medicolegal news and updates, visit medicalprotection.org 

If you need advice, contact a medicolegal adviser at querydoc@medicalprotection.org

Workshops
Our risk management workshops are free to Medical Protection members and delivered by practising doctors. 

For more information, click on ‘Education & events’ at the top of the page.