FINANCE AND HEALTH ECONOMICS: FOUR PROMISING PATHS
The second of the six topics for the 28th EAHM congress is Finance and Health Economics. This topic will be addressed in one of the six hospitals to be visited in Brussels, Delta (Chirec group). Why this topic? We asked the Chairman, Philippe Blua, CEO of Hôpitaux Champagne-Sud in Troyes (France) and current president of the European Association of Hospital Managers.
“Most modern hospitals were built in a period of economic euphoria. After the Second World War, rapid growth and the generalization of social insurance systems brought a spectacular improvement in healthcare. The entire European population gained access to even the most expensive treatment. Today, medicine has become increasingly technical and effective, with a growing number of different types of equipment”, recalls Philippe Blua.
“The return to slow economic growth, at times interspersed with periods of recession, has changed the situation. New technologies and new molecules are more and more expensive, while budgets are shrinking. Now access for all to the most effective care has become a central issue for hospital managers”, the EAHM President continues.
Two main strategies
Two main strategies are used to achieve this, as Philippe Blua describes: first, concentrating technical premises to create economies of scale, and second, improving efficiency.
“Concentration is indispensable to cope with increasing costs. The more expensive the equipment, the more patients must use it to reduce average costs. The more expensive the therapies, the more their buyers – hospitals – must get together to have some sway when facing industry”, the CEO emphasizes.
Better spending is another prerequisite to make savings. There are three ways to do this, EAHM President explains: “Improving productivity, or in other words, providing care faster – this is the reason behind the development of out-patient services and shorter hospitalization. Limiting waste – much still remains to be done in this field. For example, according to some studies, nearly 50% of the food produced for patients and staff is thrown away. Improving quality – this means reducing risks and exceptional cost overrun.”
A new paradigm
And he goes on to say: “The corollary of these developments is that medicine is no longer an art, based on a special relationship between doctor and patient. It has now become a service industry using modern technology where the patient interacts with a multi-disciplinary team applying increasingly standardized processes.”
In this context, the advent of new communication and information technologies is a wonderful opportunity.
Four promising paths
Four paths appear to be particularly promising for Philippe Blua:
- Asking the patient to do part of the administrative tasks currently carried out by the staff: admission procedure, ordering meals, collecting information on the patient’s constants and providing follow-up of treatments, particularly after the return home.
- Automating and simplifying collection of information indispensable for the traceability of healthcare to increase the amount of time that health care professionals can devote to patients.
- Using artificial intelligence to help with the diagnosis and choice of therapies to reduce the margin of error.
- Optimizing processes and anticipating activity by exploiting data to maximize the use of available resources.
“Universities, start-ups, hospitals are already working on these various subjects. The speed at which these new technologies and practices are adopted is a crucial issue for the future of healthcare establishments and the improvement of care”, the EAHM President concludes.