AmCham Romania made the case for increased investments in healthcare, building on the main findings of the dedicated report “Healthcare as Investment” that outlines main policy efficiency, cost optimization and funding options.
The research AmCham commissioned to IQVIA X-rays the status of the healthcare system financing, identifies areas for improvement, best practices and funding options that can be accessed to take Romania closer to the EU average in terms of healthcare spending and to facilitate easier access for Romanian patients to quality and innovative health services and treatments.
“Healthcare as an investment” has been a long term AmCham Romania priority and we have spared no opportunity to promote the benefits of such a paradigm shift for individuals, communities, and for the society at large. We trust that the report we are launching today will prove to be a great tool for healthcare decision makers to assess the current state of Romania’s health system compared with EU countries. We use the occasion to reiterate our call for sound and coherent measures, for the use of existing technology and funding to improve the system on which Romanian patients need to entrust their health and their life, said Roberto Musneci, Chair of the AmCham Healthcare Committee.
The research identifies three main types of policy actions that AmCham recommends tackling key problems and inefficiencies across the patients journey and to unlock critical healthcare enablers.
A first set of actions addresses the policy efficiency and include investing in prevention and screening to reduce risk factors and mortality rate from preventable and treatable causes, stabilize workforce dynamics through programs to motivate young doctors to remain in Romania and to address regional disparities, focus on outcomes, moving to payment models that reward outcomes over volumes and supports the improvement of patient adherence.
Romania currently has a huge gap in screening compared to EU levels due to the lack of a nation-wide screening program run at scale and to limited awareness of screening across the population. This can be reduced through optimizing the capacity to manage and implement existing screening programs, developing new programs to ensure proper diagnostics tests, incentives for screening performance and measurement of outcome.
The research also urges for urgent measures addressing the shortage of healthcare personnel. 1,500 – 2,000 doctors leaving Romania each year due to low pay and recognition results in a lower than the EU average of practicing doctors per 1,000 inhabitants with notable fragmentation in their distribution across the country. Moreover, an uneven distribution of physicians per specialty and age group creates additional pressure and challenges and will affect the capacity of the system to provide proper care and build a solid and effective prevention care.
Another set of recommended solutions address the need for cost optimization which according to the research can be achieved through advanced outpatient care, reinvesting of savings from loss of exclusivity and reduce time to availability for innovative therapies, implementing digital health, guided by a clear vision, priorities and milestones until 2025 along with supporting better access for patients to medicines and medical devices.
With a digital maturity score notably behind the EU, a country that positions itself as an IT hub, unlike in other countries in the EU, Romania has no policies around the digital health act, electronic health ID, interoperability, or electronic health records (EHRs). Large scale digitization requires strong cultural, political, economic and regulatory environments to establish well-funded and trusted frameworks.
As the number of medical devices in Romanian hospitals is on one hand lowest within the EU and vastly underutilized on the other hand, it is crucial to prioritize initiatives to ensure better access to medical devices and to use them to optimize patient pathway from diagnosis to monitoring.
In terms of funding options, the research indicates several main streams that need to be prioritized. These include EU Funds – recovery and resilience, EU4Health funds, the set up of a dedicated Innovation Fund to drive early access to innovative medicines and therapies, similarly to countries across Europe where such Fund was successfully introduced in the last years.
Multiple EU Funds are available for Romania in the next 5 years and need to be leveraged to unlock funding for innovation and structural reforms, yet to successfully access them capabilities need to be improved through training, access to expertise and performance measuring and incentivizing.
All of the policy actions need a strong industry – policy partnership and collaboration to drive healthcare forward. Only through the combined efforts of all public and private stakeholders in healthcare innovative projects, reforms and strategies can be successfully implemented.
AmCham Romania and its members in the healthcare ecosystem will remain committed to the Healthcare as Investment agenda and will continue to engage in a constructive dialogue aimed at making the vision a reality for Romania.