The world’s wealthiest have always benefited the most when it comes to receiving quality healthcare, with the private sector currently providing 50 percent of global health services. At WISH 2018, however, Sir David Nicholson will advocate for the delivery of universal healthcare (UHC) for all. Through the Role of the Private Sector in Healthcare forum, which Sir David chairs, he hopes to provide policy recommendations for aligning governmental and private sector healthcare providers to maximize healthcare for whole populations.
Compiling Sir David’s report has involved establishing conversations with leaders of governmental bodies, insurance companies and healthcare providers from 15 different countries in order to find out their views of UHC and to discover what is being done around the world to make UHC a reality. He believes that WISH offers an ideal platform for exploring UHC as WISH brings together policymakers, government officials, practitioners and managers, providing a unique opportunity to engage these stakeholders into the conversation around UHC.
“In universal healthcare, there are really good conversations with policy makers, but these are just with policy makers. Meanwhile really good conversations are taking place among private healthcare providers. We’re trying to bring people together because that way we’ll be able to turn a policy into reality, which is a big challenge these days. It’s how you execute these policies to make a real difference for patients in the population,” Sir David says.
One of the most important aspects of such conversations is finding and implementing ways of using technology to deliver low cost, high quality healthcare to underdeveloped and underprivileged regions, using multiple stakeholders, including governments, innovators and private investors, to take things forward.
” While private healthcare has traditionally dealt with people who have significant amount of disposable income, there are examples around the world of a private sector that can provide high quality, low cost healthcare and that does it really effectively. It is really important to engage the private sector to do this effectively,” says Nicholson.
A major worry around funding universal healthcare is the risk of high expenditure: as consumer costs drop, government and private sector spending tends to go up.
“One of the things you’ll hear many healthcare providers say is that governments are very poor at paying on time and paying the correct amounts due, which can make a massive difference to the cash flow of private sector companies. There are big, strategic things that governments need to do to engage the private sector but there are also some basic issues around competence that they need to do too,” he says, adding that if both sides are engaged in long term planning, the right framework can be set in place.
And the stakes are high: the success or failure of government policy can pivot around the an ability to provide high-quality, low-cost UHC. More importantly, the quality of healthcare offered by a society and its government has a massive impact on individuals and the communities in which they live.