In our 2019 Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium (#PPB19), AmCham Belgium recommends the next governments to work towards an ambitious program to anticipate future healthcare needs, by simplifying and modernizing collaboration between all levels of government and administration. Today, we zoom in on the new Health ProspectING study, which reflects on the future of the healthcare ecosystem.
by Johan Vanhoyland, Managing Director Sector Head Technology, Media, Telecom & Healthcare, ING Belgium
What’s at stake?
The healthcare reform plans to create around twenty regional hospital networks by allowing hospitals to collaborate or to merge. These networks would be more economical and would offer higher quality care. However, Dr. Eduard Portella (Antares Consulting) is concerned that this will lead to an oligopolistic system. In ING’s third Health ProspectING study, he and other experts consider how continuity of care will be guaranteed for high-risk patients following hospital mergers.
A Belgian problem
Other European countries are also working on reforming their healthcare services. Most countries are trying to integrate patient care into the full medical process. In that model, hospitals focus on technical achievements, surgery and emergencies and work more closely with other parties such as home care providers.
According to Dr. Portella, this approach is more difficult to implement in Belgium. The powers of the Federal Government cover the hospital sector and social security, whereas the regional level is responsible for medical-social care (residential care homes, home care, etc.), which complicates the development of a common vision.
There is an urgent need for a common vision on healthcare services.
Dr. Eduard Portella, Antares Consulting
Yet, Dr. Portella believes there is an urgent need to integrate patient care in the full medical process, in particular for high-risk patients. In Belgium, 20% of the population receives 70% of the healthcare benefits. These are people with complex health problems or vulnerable elderly people who often have several different chronic disorders. Without access to an integrated healthcare system, they end up in the hospital. Nothing is enabling them to approach this differently.
Neighboring countries, on the other hand, ensure that these people spend as little time as possible in hospitals. Belgium has not managed to do this successfully, but it is not too late according to Dr. Portella: If we set up an integrated system, healthcare will be less costly for society and patients will receive the right care throughout their entire lives.
AmCham Belgium fully supports this vision and calls on the future governments to develop an ambitious program, where binding collaboration is key and the complexity of divided and ill-defined competencies is overcome.
About the author
Johan Vanhoyland is the Sector Head Technology, Media, Telecom & Healthcare at ING Belgium. As a Sector Head, he is responsible for growing the ING franchise within the healthcare sector and its different subsectors in the Belgian market. Johan is also a member of the global management team TMT & Healthcare and of the core team steering the global healthcare initiative within ING worldwide. Johan is engaged with AmCham Belgium through the Innovative Healthcare Committee.