Social franchising primary healthcare clinics – a model for South African National Health Insurance?

Andrew Ken Lacey Robinson


This article describes the first government social franchise initiative in the world to deliver a ‘brand’ of quality primary healthcare (PHC) clinic services. Quality and standards of care are not uniformly and reliably delivered across government PHC clinics in North West Province, South Africa, despite government support, numerous policies, guidelines and in-service training sessions provided to staff. Currently the strongest predictor of good-quality service is the skill and dedication of the facility manager. A project utilising the social franchising business model, harvesting best practices, has been implemented with the aim of developing a system to ensure reliably excellent healthcare service provision in every facility in North West. The services of social franchising consultants have been procured to develop the business model to drive this initiative. Best practices have been benchmarked, and policies, guidelines and clinic support systems have been reviewed, evaluated and assessed, and incorporated into the business plan. A pilot clinic has been selected to refine and develop a working social franchise model. This will then be replicated in one clinic to confirm proof of concept before further scale-up. The social franchise business model can provide solutions to a reliable and recognisable ‘brand’ of quality universal coverage of healthcare services. 

Author's affiliations

Andrew Ken Lacey Robinson, Department of Health, North West Province, South Africa

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National Health Insurance; NHI; Primary healthcare; PHC; Social franchising; Replication quality care

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2015;105(7):531-534. DOI:10.7196/SAMJnew.7814

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-02-24
Date published: 2015-09-21

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