Interview with Urs Martin, head of Public Affairs
What is the place of your hospitals group within the Swiss healthcare system?
Hirslanden is Switzerland’s largest private hospital group and also the biggest medical service network. The Hirslanden Private Hospital Group consists of 18 hospitals in 11 cantons, many of which have an integrated outpatient surgery unit and a 24-hour emergency centre. The group also operates 4 outpatient clinics, 17 radiology and 5 radiotherapy institutes. The Hirslanden group has public service contracts in all of the cantons where Hislanden clinics are located, thus significantly contributing to the health care delivery of the Swiss population.
What are the latest news and projects in your clinic group?
A leading private hospital in Geneva – the Clinique des Grangettes – joined the group in September, strengthening Hirslanden’s presence in Switzerland. Our aim is to create interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral networks in order to maximize the benefits for patients.
To meet this goal, a high quality service level is essential, as attested by Hirslanden certifications and service contract agreements. The Klinik Hirslanden was for instance the first private hospital in Switzerland to successfully obtain the certification by the German Cancer Society for its centers specialized in breast and prostate cancers. Klinik Hirslanden was also the first private hospital in Switzerland to be accredited for strokes complex treatments.
Moreover, Hirslanden Private Hospital Group pays great importance to patient satisfaction, which is continuously monitored in all hospitals using the Press Ganey international measurement metrics. This year and for the first time, patient satisfaction results for all Hirslanden clinics have been published online.
What are the issues that most concern you in the coming years?
The ongoing evolution of the health policy framework will remain challenging in the coming years, especially since the consolidation of the healthcare sector in Switzerland is underway. Currently we are particularly busy with the shift in medical services from inpatient to outpatient care, as requested by our policy makers.
In your opinion, in which way does your group best contribute to public health in your country?
Hirslanden stands for first-class medical quality, ensured by highly qualified and experienced specialists. Interdisciplinary medical competence centers and specialized institutes enable optimal and individual treatments, even of highly complex cases. Outstanding certifications and awarded service contracts in the field of highly specialized medicine bear witness to the high quality standard.
What should be done to increase the proportion of private clinics in Europe?
This requires a clear political framework in the sense of a competition oriented health system. The decisive factor here is that both private and public hospitals have equal chances. In Switzerland, however, the multiple role of cantons leads to problematic conflicts of interest. Cantons operate public hospitals and are at the same time responsible for the supervision of all hospitals, the elaboration of the hospital planning and the cantonal hospital list*, the approval of tariffs and the planning of highly specialized medicine. This gives the cantons clear incentives to favor their own hospitals, thereby penalizing private hospitals, which ultimately leads to distortion of competition. Therefore, the multiple role of the cantons should be reconsidered.
* Health insurance companies reimburse a maximum of 45% of the price of a service, while the cantons pay the remaining 55%. However, to get the cantonal funding of 55%, a private clinic is required to be included on the cantonal hospital list.