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OECD Ministerial to Address Next Generation of Health Reforms


January 16, 2017

Health Ministers from more than 35 OECD countries will gather at the OECD Headquarters in Paris on Tuesday January 17 to discuss how healthcare systems can reform "to better deal with the challenges and to realize the opportunities of tomorrow."

The OECD Ministerial The Next Generation of Health Reforms will address issues such as:

  • How to tackle ineffective health spending and waste

  • How to make the most of new health technologies in a sustainable way

  • How to modernise the roles of health professionals

  • How to realise the promise of Big Data in health and health care

In a press statement about the event, EFPIA President and Novartis headJoe Jimenez writes that although people are living longer, they often live with several chronic diseases at once and "[h]ealthcare systems face a dilemma of growing demand and the need to invest for the future, while budgets have been flat or declining following the global financial crisis."

With opportunities such as a rapid development of science and technology, including in biomedicine, biotechnology, genomics, and nanotechnology, "we are breaking new ground in ways never seen before," Jimenez goes on.

"However, sometimes these opportunities are also perceived as threats. ... new technology can be disruptive. It can change the treatment paradigm for major diseases. It can make old technologies and skills obsolete. It can change the relationship between patients and their physicians. It requires funding decisions that often include tough trade-offs. And it may require new ways of paying for healthcare that don’t fit with the current system."

Jimenez highlights three points as particularly important:

  • The impact of new technologies should be assessed long before they reach the market through better horizon scanning across technologies - be it medicines, cell- and gene therapies, devices, or digital healthcare tools. 

  • Rather than focusing on the price of individual technologies, we should systematically scrutinize the overall cost of healthcare and ask ourselves how we can deliver the most value to patients for the money we spend. 

  • To be able to assess the true value of medicines and other healthcare interventions, we must become better at measuring the actual health outcomes that our healthcare systems deliver. We still focus too much on the various inputs into healthcare - number of doctors, number of pills, or number of screenings. Instead, we should focus on the value these inputs create in terms of better health for patients, savings for the healthcare budgets, and benefits to society as a whole. 

He concludes: "Open and transparent stakeholder dialogue is an important enabler to achieve these objectives. The innovative pharmaceutical industry is ready to play its part. The OECD Ministerial is a great opportunity to provide an important stepping-stone for that dialogue and for more effective public-private collaboration going forward."


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