The healthcare in The Netherlands is being trapped
It will have escaped few people. In healthcare, a "Comprehensive Care Agreement" has been agreed upon under the leadership of the minister, with the aim of saving access to care. There is a wide recognition that the current way in which healthcare is organized is inadequate for the rapidly increasing demand for care. Nevertheless, the current relationships are extremely rigid. I notice that many people consider this a natural phenomenon. "Changing healthcare is difficult, always has been." Healthcare is indeed institutionally rigid. But it does not have to be as inert as it is now. In the last ten years that I have been a hospital administrator, I have seen healthcare become trapped, after a more agile period before it. Some of that momentum can return. - Jeroen van Roon.
'Healthcare is indeed institutionally rigid. But it does not have to be as inert as it is now.'
The implementation of the Health Insurance Law
All these steps led to a wave of new entrants such as Independent Treatment Centers, higher-quality infrastructure with more ICT, and to the next wave of hospital mergers. "Behind the front door" of those mergers, unprofitable departments and locations were sanitized and medical professionals could organize more effective teams.
Causes of the health care issues
That trend is well understood. But the net result is that healthcare has become trapped. Individual initiative is hardly possible anymore. Taking risks, "not done." Healthcare entrepreneurship is suspect. A healthcare institution with an innovative concept that could potentially lead to a shift in patient flows quickly receives the indignation of other healthcare institutions. The current legal framework makes collaboration between different types of healthcare institutions very difficult. Actors in this impasse do not dare to step outside the strict interpretation of their role, knowing that "putting on big pants" causes trouble.
'Mergers do not only lead to more bureaucracy. Entrepreneurship also brings innovation.'
Regional health care plans
However, let's also look to see if we can restore some of the dynamics we had at the beginning of the decade. Yes, it was probably too fast at the time. But the total of all the restraining reactions to it was an overreaction. Mergers do not only lead to more bureaucracy. Entrepreneurship also brings innovation. Individual healthcare-improving initiatives should have a structural reward, not just a temporary subsidy. We have now wasted crucial years in which we should have prepared for the healthcare demand tsunami that is coming to us.