Helping clients achieve ‘health for all’: KPMG’s journey into universal health coverage
Mark Britnell, Global Chairman for Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare, KPMG International
In September 2019, world leaders adopted probably the most ambitious and comprehensive statement of commitment on global health in history. The United Nations’ Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage (PDF 182 KB) is a truly astonishing document, recognizing as it does the enormous scale of the challenge to reach UHC by 2030 – with more than half the world’s population currently lacking access to essential services, and over 100 million pushed into poverty through healthcare costs each year.
Recognizing the size of these gaps, member states made a series of bold commitments to work collectively to strengthen the healthcare workforce, invest in primary care at scale, develop the necessary infrastructure and reform governance systems – all to help ensure that within the next decade everyone has access to the care they need without suffering financial hardship.
Since the global Sustainable Development Goals were first agreed upon in 2015, KPMG recognized that achieving ‘health for all’ would be a gargantuan task – and one where governments, institutions and the private sector would need new kinds of expertise, advice and support. So in 2016 we launched a 3-year initiative, the Center for Universal Health Coverage, with the intention of developing a dedicated network of specialist services geared towards the challenges that KPMG firms’ clients were likely to face on the road to UHC.
Our Center for UHC was to be an expression of our commitment to people’s right to accessible and affordable healthcare but was also, we believed, a sound business investment given the technical and operational challenges posed by UHC. These included how to maximize the efficiency of provider systems through new care models and pathway redesign, how to design new coverage mechanisms and benefit packages, how to raise and administer new sources of funds, and much more. Our prediction was that as countries enacted these once-in-a-generation reforms they would, by definition, lack some of the essential technical skills and be open to bringing in support from advisors that had done these things many times before.
Three years on from our investment, we could not have predicted how attractive an offer that would be, nor the success our UHC initiative would produce for our clients and our firm. Our teams have delivered or are delivering major UHC-related projects in 18 countries across five continents. This includes the introduction of National Health Insurance programs across several states in India as well as Kazakhstan, Bahrain and The Bahamas. We have also worked on provider-side readiness, including public private partnerships in four countries, and the autonomization of public healthcare providers in the Republic of Cyprus as part of their bid to become the final EU nation to achieve UHC. And we have seen tremendous demand from the private sector – conducting strategy projects for clinic and lab chains, rivate insurers and life sciences firms to ready them for the immense changes brewing in any of the health systems in which they work.
The success of our efforts was down to many factors: not only pre-empting the needs of clients but also successfully matching these with KPMG’s local presence in 154 countries and our network of over 50 national healthcare practices around the world. Undoubtedly though, the dedication and purpose that this work inspired among our teams was the greatest catalyst of drive and momentum. This was nothing short of infectious, and many of the staff who have worked on these projects came away with a renewed passion for healthcare.
Yet there is so much more to do. The UN’s Political Declaration on UHC also recognizes that the current pace of progress is still far from adequate to meet the 2030 target, and a “measurable acceleration” of efforts is required. While our projects are helping to expand access to care for millions of people, we are also preparing to move to a bigger scale still – mainstreaming our UHC offer across KPMG’s global healthcare network and enhancing it with something more ambitious still that will further challenge how we as a firm do business around the world. Watch this space for that announcement, but in the meantime I wish to pay tribute to our wonderful clients, and to the hard work of those that have contributed to our UHC journey thus far.