The executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic discusses measuring the impact that healthcare policy changes have on the healthy life years of Czechs. Furthermore, he identifies the Czech people as a most important asset which sets the nation apart from its neighbors.
The AmCham Czech Republic recently issued a statement on the national strategy of Health 2020, generally approving of it as step in the right direction but criticizing that a measurement of value is missing. What would this measurement look like?
It was not so much criticism as it was feedback. The issue with the healthcare system has always been that there are two groups of opinion; those who argue that the system works and is simply in need of more finances and those who advocate that the system doesn’t work and is headed for a crisis if not fundamentally reformed. Depending on who is ruling in government, one side is stronger than the other. Traditionally, the left-wing advocates that the healthcare system is fine and the right-wing predicts a healthcare crisis.
What we liked about the national strategy of Health 2020 is that it sets Europe-wide standards of healthy life years. This goal of enhancing healthy life years, noble as it is, is difficult to achieve if not broken down into its components, which is essentially the entire lifespan, minus time of illness, minus time of disability. Our suggestion is that policy makers and the healthcare system focus on exactly that—healthy life years of the Czech people— rather than quarrelling about spending. All policy changes should aim at improving the performance of the healthcare system; measured and valued by how it reduces the occurrence of illness in the population. By applying this measurement, policy makers would have a clear idea of the performance of their decisions!
Besides the lack of measurement, what do you identify as the most significant challenge in the healthcare system?
The most significant challenge I identify is a challenge affecting the whole of Europe: its aging population which will significantly strain European healthcare capacities! Europe faces the challenges of significantly rising costs, whilst having little leeway of raising taxes without accepting a tremendously negative economic impact. The different European healthcare systems have to be modified to keep them affordable, while being able to serve the increasing demand; nobody has the right answer on how to modify them—yet.
In the past, you have made numerous recommendations on policy changes to the Czech government, of which some made it into solid legislation. What current challenges of your members are you working on to resolve?
Read the full interview here (in English).