Better, Longer, Cheaper
Playing catch up
Issue at hand: How to improve outcomes while containing costs
EVEN as medical science progresses — contributing to longer life spans — the ways health outcomes are measured have yet to catch up.
Life expectancy has been used as a measure for years, but “there is no quality of life perspective to this, just a number”, said Mr Dean Westcott, a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) governing council at an “ideas forum” yesterday.
There is a need for “more sophisticated measures” of healthcare outcomes, said the finance director and deputy chief executive of a healthcare trust in the United Kingdom.
This was one of the key issues raised at the ACCA session for academics and industry leaders, including from the public and private hospitals.
The roundtable discussion also identified another overarching issue — of how to improve healthcare outcomes while containing costs, which have been rising in recent years, outstripping GDP by two percentage points every year in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.
This is not sustainable, Mr Westcott told Today, adding: “Studies have estimated that by 2020, healthcare expenditure will triple.”
The question to grapple with is how to decide the most efficient level of expenditure.
According to Mr Westcott, the general consensus on efficient resource allocation is a focus on lifestyle and prevention and to have “equity of access”.
This means having people enter the healthcare system early, before conditions become chronic and cause complications.
But political will, patience and foresight is required for this to happen as results may take years, even generations, to realise.
Singapore is one of three cities with different healthcare financing models — alongside London and Washington — sharing its perspective on the issue of healthcare costs versus outcomes, which will shape an ACCA-commissioned study on global healthcare.
Mr Westcott, who moderated yesterday’s forum, said: “We anticipate that it will be used to inform healthcare policy decision making.”
We've discussed this topic before here, and angry doc's view is this:
The fact is people in their last year of life consume a disproportionate percentage of a nation's healthcare spending, ... every life eventually comes (or in this case ends) with a price-tag. In fact, there is also a case to be made that the older this 'last year of life' is, the greater the amount of spending in the last hospitalisation will be.
As long as we see longevity and good health as desirable commodities, healthcare spending will continue to rise.
The question then is not perhaps on how much to spend, but when to stop spending.
Reading between the lines, it seems that Mr Westcott shares a similar view when he said "there is no quality of life perspective to [life expectancy], just a number", and that there is a need for “more sophisticated measures” of healthcare outcomes.
Come on now, people.
We all know what needs to be done here, don't we?
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