Opportunities to Increase Efficiency in Healthcare
Case studies explored more and less successful practices when delivering healthcare across four priority areas (screening, disease management and standardised patient pathways, rational use of medicines and healthcare associated infections). Results were used to simulate cost-savings and patient outcomes.
Around 10% of the Gross Domestic Product of the European countries is spent on healthcare every year, and estimates suggest that up to one-fifth of this amount is spent inefficiently. In a recent OHE consulting report we analysed opportunities for efficiency gains in four therapeutic areas: i) Screening, ii) Disease Management Programmes (DMPs) and Standardised Patient Pathways (SPPs), iii) the rational use of medicines, and iv) Healthcare-Associated Infections (HCAIs).
Case studies were developed, supplemented by workshops with stakeholders from Poland, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Spain. We identified examples of more and less successful practices for the four focus therapeutic areas, and quantified potential efficiency gains to the 27 European countries (EU27) and the UK in terms of population health outcomes and healthcare resource utilisation.
The case studies highlighted the potential for efficiency gains across a range of priority areas as well as key challenges in achieving these gains. These led to the generation of the following high-level insights, in addition to case study specific lessons which can be found in the main report:
Interventions that rely on patient participation should make participation as easy as possible, e.g. by delivering test kits rather than requiring them to be collected from general practitioners.
Implementers of interventions that require health actors to take on new roles should be aware of, and take steps to mitigate potential resistance due to cultural norms or existing incentive structures, for example to avoid participants booking extra appointments with their general practitioner to confirm advice given by a nurse.
Local data might be needed to tailor existing interventions to address the specific drivers of inefficiencies in a given context. Ongoing data collection allows for refinement of these interventions.
The operational constraints of the broader health system should be considered when designing interventions, for example by anticipating increased demand for further testing which may arise due to an increase in screening.
Meaningful efficiency gains are possible in European healthcare systems. However, there are country challenges, organisational and cultural differences, that act as a barrier to changes and innovations. Our insights, based on simulations, aim to serve as an incentive to implement changes in the design and/or implementation of practices to reduce inefficiencies in the delivery of healthcare.
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