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Acting on Future Health conference at Imperial College Business School

Affordable health is key to a longer life

Affordable health is key to a longer life

Affordable healthcare is key to a longer life

By: Laura Singleton

People need access to quality, affordable healthcare to live longer and improve a country's productivity says KPMG's global head of healthcare, Mark Britnell.

Dr. Mark Britnell, Chairman and Senior Partner, Global Health Practice at KPMG, delivered a keynote speech at the Mobilising Business, Acting on Future Health conference at Imperial College Business School. He spoke about the reasons why healthcare providers underperform and what this means for patient care, drawing on his recent report for the World Economic Forum (WEF) and his own book, In Search of the Perfect Health System.

Dr. Britnell spoke to Laura Singleton about the importance of quality of life, the issues of access and affordability of patient care and the role of technology in improving services.

Access and affordability are two of the greatest health challenges of our time." – Dr Mark Britnell, Chairman and Senior Partner, Global Health Practice at KPMG

What do businesses, governments and healthcare providers need to do to increase global life expectancy?

Globally, governments and businesses are enabling more patients to access universal healthcare, which has led to marked improvements in life expectancy. By improving public healthcare, governments and businesses are increasingly recognising the economic and social benefits of a healthy, long-living population. Despite this, our recent study with the World Economic Forum has emphasised the importance of ensuring that health system incentives, structures, and policies are aligned in order to achieve this.

Our report demonstrated that if all countries performed at the level of the best in their spending group, average global life expectancy would cumulatively increase by four years. While some health systems are better aligned than others, many examples of alignment coexist with significant misalignments, conflicts and inefficiencies.

Why do patients often miss out on the best treatments?

Access and affordability are two of the greatest health challenges of our time. A good quality healthcare system should offer value for money and ensure that patients receive the best possible care.

Despite this, patients can still miss out on the best treatments. Our report highlighted one cause of this, where misaligned and inefficient allocation of resources impact on the availability of treatments for patients. An example of this is the way that health service funding doesn’t necessarily correlate with the disease impact. For example, mental health is responsible for 13 percent of disability-adjusted life years, but just two percent of funding.

Similarly, misaligned payment models that favour volume over quality of care have impacted on diabetic care in the UK, and power asymmetries have skewed funding and resource allocation for some cancers over others. Improving this alignment is a key challenge for the NHS and other healthcare providers around the world, in order to ensure that patients’ needs are put first and that people have the best possible access to treatments.

What needs to be done to tackle the biggest global health issues today – cancer, diabetes and mental health?

Finding new treatments remains a pressing challenge for healthcare providers around the world. Another challenge is making sure prevention and delivery are integrated into public health services, so that everyone has equal access to treatment.

Patients often suffer when when information isn’t available or easily shared with others working in different healthcare settings, such as in the community or hospital. This lack of transparency impacts on patients’ choice regarding a healthcare provider and the treatments available.

What can the NHS learn from other countries?

We have a great opportunity to learn from other healthcare providers who are performing well in countries such as Japan, India and Israel. From the health and social policies for the ageing population in Japan, the value delivered in India, and the strengths of population health and community care in Israel, innovative approaches to common problems are being developed on a global scale.

The invitation-only conference, organised by Imperial College Business School, brought together businesses and other key players within the health sector to explore what needs to be done to improve health services including the role of technology and innovation in improving services and patient care. For more information visit the website.

Read the original article posted on the Imperial College Business School website.

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