A think tank commissioned by Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke to develop a new payment system for general practitioners presented its final report on Tuesday, paving the way for the doctors to be able to opt for the new system from next year.
So far, GPs can choose between two payment systems. They can be paid either on a fee-for-service basis, based on the number of consultations and home visits they make, or on a lump sum basis, depending on the number of patients registered with their practice.
The think tank, led by Professors Ann Van den Bruel (KU Leuven) and Jean-Luc Belche (ULiège), has been working on a third system of financing, which would be a mix of the two existing ones.
Payments on a fee-for-service basis and on a flat-rate basis would each account for 40-45% of total payments, according to the think tank, which is made up of representatives of health insurance funds, medical schools, general practitioners' scientific and professional associations, trainee doctors, the federal health department and related institutions.
The additional 10-20% would come from existing bonuses, an optional bonus to attract nurses to general practice, and a management bonus, which would depend on the number of regular patients and the number of providers.
General practitioners would remain free to choose from among these three systems. The operation would be budget neutral, except for the bonuses for nurses and for management.
The details of the mixed remuneration system will be refined in the coming months. A test period will then be set up with a few practices.
The new system should be fully operational by early 2024.