The Ministry of Health organized a special briefing to introduce the position of the Czech Ministry of Health to the OECD recommendations formulated in the health chapter of OECD's regular Economic Review entitled "Improving the Healthcare System in the Czech Republic". "Since joining the ministry, I have been trying to link the Czech environment and the expertise that international organizations can provide. The presented analysis is one of the most extensive documents drafted by the international organization in recent years and I would like it to serve as a source of useful recommendations as well as the basis for further professional and political debate," said Health Minister Adam Vojtěch. The briefing was attended by more than a hundred representatives of hospitals, insurance companies, associations of professionals, and educational institutions, trade unions, representatives of other ministries and, last but not least, the health committees of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Parliament.
"A well functioning primary care sector can bring both efficiency gains through reducing avoidable use of hospital facilities, and better quality of care through better management of patients’ pathways. However, in the Czech Republic, the efficiency of delivery of primary care is suffering from lack of co-ordination. Patients’ ability to access specialist care without a prior general practitioner (GP) consultation, poorly defined mutual responsibilities of outpatient specialists and GPs and current payment systems mean that primary care’s potential to lead for instance chronic disease management is not being fulfilled. GPs should be entrusted with a greater gate-keeping and co-ordination role to ensure that patients are better directed to the most appropriate place for their treatment. User fees for specialist visits without referral could be introduced to strengthen GP’s gate-keeping role." (OECD analysis)
The main recommendations from the organization include, for example, strengthening the role of primary care through gate-keeping . In this area, the Ministry of Health is already working on a reform that should extend the skills of GPs to guide the patient in the health system. The OECD also recommends limiting the impact of reimbursement decrees in order to leave more room for negotiation between insurers and health care providers.
The Czech Republic should also, according to the OECD, increase the capacity of medical faculties and ensure sustainable funding for higher education institutions. Together with the education sector, a program was prepared and approved by the government, within which the Faculty of Medicine will receive over 7 billion crowns in the next eleven years to increase the capacity of the medical faculties by 15% and increase the salaries of the teachers.
The OECD also recommends developing e-Health. In this area, the Ministry of Health launched eRecept at the beginning of this year and prepared a material on shared patient record, which is currently being reviewed by the Chamber of Deputies. In addition, before the end of the year, the Ministry will submit to the Government a material intent of the eHealth Act.
"As the economy is doing well, reforms to the health care system and its financing should be adressed now." (OECD analysis)
The main challenge for Czech healthcare is, according to the OECD, the long-term sustainability of health financing in the context of the aging population. Therefore, its other recommendations are directed primarily at the necessity of balancing the income composition within the health care system. In its analysis, the OECD further recommends focusing on the number of hospital beds. The Czech Republic has an average of 6.2 beds per 1,000 inhabitants for the OECD average, which is 4.7 hospital beds per 1 000 inhabitants.
Image credit: Ministry of Health