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AmCham conference on the topic of healthcare highlighted examples of best practices and reforms carried out in other countries. It also discussed challenges in healthcare financing, its organizational efficiency and innovations. The key messages can be summarized into the fact that for successful implementation of reforms, we need determination, government support and a dialogue with all stakeholders. The key is also a change in hospital management and greater control over the system of service quality.

The conference was organized by the AmCham Health Committee, in which business representatives from the health sector formulate proposals for improving the healthcare system. Their final proposal, which is also the base conference theme, is available HERE.

Mary Harney, the former Minister for Health of the Republic of Ireland, who successfully carried out a healthcare reform at home, emphasized: “A good health policy is a good economic policy. Our reforms were a long and a hard process, where determination and support of the Prime Minister were key, as was a multi-stakeholder dialogue.”

Ernst van Koesveld from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport explained the results of healthcare reforms in the Netherlands: “In the Netherlands, we can now compare hospitals based on their results, which brings accountability, fairness and cost awareness. There is no such thing as free healthcare – it is very costly. Therefore, we must choose what we can afford.” He further added that Slovenia lacks transparency and awareness of healthcare costs: “If you ask a Slovene about the cost of bread, everyone knows the answer, but nobody knows how much their health insurance costs.”

Slovene Minister of Health did not attend the conference, but her Croatian colleague, Minister of Health Siniša Varga, was among the participants. He outlined how, despite a lot of criticism, the healthcare reform in Croatia is being done: “What the healthcare system needs above all is transparency. We improved the productivity of our healthcare system and reduced the pressure on hospitals – primary care did a lot of work here. We are already seeing larger satisfaction with the system and shorter queues. We introduced a vey neoliberal style of financial management, similar to the one that took Germany 5 years to implement. We only had 6 months, but the results are already visible.”

Francesca Colombo from OECD highlighted examples of best practices: “One of the major difficulties is the use of data in healthcare, either the data is not there or it is not being used. The systems are not ready, there are also privacy concerns. Currently, the Nordic countries together with England and Canada are the leaders in the field of creating database systems and in legislation.” She further mentioned the case of Israel, which focused on primary care, although several countries tackled the problem from the opposite side: “Israel built a strong information infrastructure to see how clinics are delivering and to set benchmarks for its doctors.”

“Slovenia had a good healthcare system, based on solidarity. Today, this is no longer the case, as we did not adapt to the changes in the society, such as demographic changes, new medicine and higher life expectancy,” emphasized former Slovenian Minster of Health, Tomaž Gantar.

Doc. dr. Petra Došenovič Bonča from the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana warned about the scarcity of public resources: “Public resources will always be limited, but the question is how to counterbalance them and which mechanism to use. We certainly need a mechanism that responds well and ensures a sustainable healthcare system in which not everything is controlled by the state. “

Many Slovenian representatives agreed that the healthcare system in Slovenia has been in status quo for too long and that reforms are necessary. Milojka Novak, co-chair of the AmCham Healthcare Committee, therefore expressed an open invitation: “We have a lot of ideas and practical experience and we know how the system functions. Therefore, we are calling and inviting responsible parties to shape the healthcare reform through a dialogue with all stakeholders and with the general public.”

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Check out the highlights of the Conference in video clips:

AmCham Business Breakfast November 2015: Individual at the Heart of the Healthcare System

AmCham Healthcare Conference: Are We Really Ready to Trust and Introduce Changes

AmCham Business Breakfast.

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