The growth of private hospitals ensures quality and patient-focused healthcare
The European private hospital sector is growing, but is it being recognized and respected in its work?
Let us therefore review the recommendations of the "Report of the Panel of Experts on Effective Ways of Investing in Health". Which are they? Investments should be guided by the quality and safety of care. All ongoing international reforms favor the combination of funding based on the activity, but also includes quality indicators. In almost all European countries, health has a cost that has reached its limits and the private sector costs less than the public...
Why favor, then, the most expensive that is the public?
Tariff reduction in the private sector is a too frequent temptation. The example of Portugal is so bad that it is shocking. How to provide quality service when unilaterally prices are cut by 10%? What sector, be it public or private, can absorb this shock, which calls into question training, investment and organization strategies, without inevitably deteriorating the service provided?
We must return to the contract principles and the independence of the stakeholders. In "Regulatory States", the independence between the regulator and the provider is a must. Recalling the simple principle of equity, why only subject the private sector to a non-realistic economic constraint, without, on one hand, prioritizing quality indicators and, on the other hand, without sharing equivalent level of efforts regardless of the legal nature of the establishment?
The European Union of Private Hospitals (UEHP) is engaged in all the battles at the service of the patient - respect for their free choice - but there is still a need for "fair competition" to be recognized among sectors and that investment strategies and managerial intelligence, which is one of the strengths of our industry for organizational innovation, be valued so as to maintain the investment progression.
What health sector is able to implement sustainable investment programs if unfair pricing policies actually prohibit them? No institution can be expected to decide on an investment in medical equipment for a year, and then wait to see if it will be sustainable the following year. Who can also explain what drives governments to lower the price of the cheapest sector, the private sector?
It is unrealistic to believe that the goal of reducing patient waiting times when hospital financing is drastically reduced is being taken into account. Has a regulatory State which takes such a decision taken into account the qualitative impacts of such measures and the risk they entail? Tariff reduction seems to ignore risk management, quality of care and productive investment.
Low-cost health is a losing strategy because it is the patient who ultimately is not taken into consideration. The only true solution to European commitments is therefore the quality of the services provided. Private providers have been implicated in all resolutions that put this simple obligation before any decision. The strength of the private sector is its adaptability to development: outpatient care, early diagnosis, free choice, innovation and waiting list reduction.
Our publication in the European Parliament, "Private Hospitals in Europe: supporting sustainable health systems", is the guarantor of this commitment. We expect shared responsibilities and equity in any public decision that affects the organization of healthcare. These are strong reasons to have private hospitals: the quality of service and the focus on the patient. We cannot therefore accept a short-term approach and value only the price. That is why UEHP and the Portuguese Association of Private Hospitals (APHP) stand together in this fight.
President of the European Union of Private Hospitals