Enhancing healthcare productivity and resilience

May 2024 Business

The Adriatic team

The Society of Healthcare Economists in Slovenia convened last week to address critical issues plaguing the country’s healthcare sector. Central to the conference’s discussions was the imperative to monitor and evaluate the productivity of healthcare providers comprehensively. Participants advocated for a dual approach, focusing on both individual practitioners and multidisciplinary teams. This, it was argued, would offer a nuanced understanding of healthcare delivery efficiency from various perspectives.

In her welcoming speech, the president of the society, Helena Ulčar Šumčić, emphasised the importance of establishing a resilient healthcare system capable of effectively responding to crises. Recognising that a shortage of human resources undermines the system’s responsiveness, she said the investments in infrastructure, equipment, and digital technologies are pivotal to bolster resilience.

Legislative reforms also featured prominently in the discussions. The health minister Dr. Valentina Prevolnik Rupel pointed out that four laws and a number of subsidiary acts have been adopted during her short tenure, but more is needed. She stressed the need for all stakeholders to collaborate to ensure the efficiency of the healthcare system.

Participants called for amendments to current laws to regulate physicians’ employment, particularly within the public sector, emphasising tripartite agreements (both institutions and employees) and unified pricing for services in the public interest. Additionally, the need for regulatory frameworks governing wages, sick leaves, and flexible remuneration to ensure fair and efficient employment practices were also highlighted.

Another key tenet of the discussions was the pivotal role of motivated, competent workers across all generations. Participants advocated for intergenerational knowledge transfer and cooperation to harness the full potential of healthcare personnel.

To ensure financial sustainability, redefining the relationship between healthcare financing sources and optimizing the scope of rights funded from public funds was also proposed. Speakers stressed the importance of systemic changes to curb rising absenteeism and underscore the significance of effective implementation and evaluation mechanisms for healthcare policies and programs.

Furthermore, participants highlighted the importance of strategic planning, effective investment management, and clear project guidelines for successful implementation of healthcare investments. They advocated for a robust secondary network of public healthcare aligned with population needs and existing capacities.

Importantly, the debates at the conference challenged the notion that positive business outcomes alone should define the success of healthcare directors. They contended that factors such as service types, payment structures, and patient complexity must also be considered.

In navigating the ongoing healthcare crisis, the conference participants emphasised the need for shared goals, clear vision, and strengthened regulatory oversight. It was argued that these strategies are fundamental to steering the healthcare sector towards greater productivity, resilience, and success. Consequently, the role of the system regulator needs to be strengthened.