National Health Insurance (NHI) Positioning

Mediclinic Southern Africa (MCSA) is a top-three South African private hospital group, part of the publicly listed Mediclinic International group, the sixth largest private hospital group in the world. Mediclinic Southern Africa has 7 130 beds in 52 hospitals in South Africa and Namibia, providing acute care, specialist-orientated, multi-disciplinary hospital services and related service offerings.

Since 2010, Stone has annually compiled integrated communication strategies for Mediclinic Southern Africa and assisted with strategic counsel, implementation of a range of communication activities across the various communication and marketing disciplines, and helped with ad hoc communication projects.

Challenge at hand

In 2012, the Department of Health embarked on the development of a National Healthcare Insurance (NHI) plan for South Africa, initially a one-sided politicised approach that ignored the private hospital sector in the debate, and rather positioned them as the root of the problem. Mediclinic embarked on a comprehensive integrated public affairs communication strategy to enable an inclusive regulatory process and to communicate the correct private hospital perspective on NHI. Based on the value that Stone added as a communication partner over the years, Mediclinic approached Stone to develop and implement an NHI Media Engagement Strategy for 2019.

The desired outcomes of this engagement included:

  • Continue to position Mediclinic as facilitator to influence policy formulation
  • Facilitate a consultative approach to include the private sector
  • Support and facilitate the potential growth opportunity in line with MCSA business goals
  • Confirm that Mediclinic can and will add value if invited to do so
  • Explore and promote potential Mediclinic value contributions to NHI
  • Address shareholder, supplier, doctor and patient concerns
Stone’s approach to meeting the need

Stone provided strategic counsel and developed a thorough engagement plan to communicate Mediclinic’s position as a partner that will make a constructive contribution to the implementation of NHI in South Africa. Stone delivered media-ready content that was easily accessible, shareable and newsworthy in line with industry happenings. Stone assisted Mediclinic in leveraging speaking opportunities and strategic points of view by the business units into content that could be successfully used for media consumption.

Stone conducted in-depth research and an ongoing consultative approach was deployed throughout to ensure that all engagement was informed by current public opinion and media commentary available.

  • Identification of proactive and reactive content response on national healthcare issues, Mediclinic’s role as healthcare provider of excellence, and leader in the field of the Science of Care was reaffirmed.
  • Significant research conducted in South Africa and internationally to understand the relevant issues and opinions from a national healthcare and private hospital perception.
  • Development of a reactive engagement strategy to allow the company to respond correctly to third party media comments – independent of the tone thereof – and engage efficiently, timeously and correctly while staying within the company’s messaging framework.
Results achieved and value added for Mediclinic Southern Africa

Due to Stone’s strategic counsel and approach, Mediclinic was able to update their strategic communication assets (releases, Q&A, fact sheets and position documents) as agreed as core content per audience cluster and theme. A three-pronged engagement approach has positioned Mediclinic as a leader in engaging in the NHI dialogue, and being a solutions-driven roleplayer in providing accessible integrated healthcare in South Africa.

Since the onset of the project, Mediclinic Souther Africa’s role has been strengthened as leading the conversation and facilitating an inclusive solutions-focused approach. The hospital group has also leveraged on research undertaken and funded by MCSA that supports the MCSA position on NHI and universal quality healthcare.

The Stone process enabled Mediclinic Southern Africa to be proactive when responding to the NHI – Timeous responses were available through key messaging and agreed Q&A, as well as organising interviews with key media to communicate the Mediclinic position on NHI as an industry thought leader.

Stone assisted in highlighting the current healthcare challenges and how Mediclinic contributed towards overcoming them, managing and enhancing the leadership reputation of Mediclinic Southern Africa, and positioning the hospital as a willing participant to NHI solutions.