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Could ICT make European healthcare fairer?

ICT is a tool not a method. Hence adequate use can lead to required results. The problem is: “There is NO Vision”! To undertake an ICT approach without having a Vision of where you are going and what you are attempting to do is a waste of time simply because there will be no interest, you have to do it, there will be no enthusiasm. Without these two elements there will be complacency. Technological progress in medicine is an additional cost factor. Rather than making medical services cheaper to produce, which is true for most other commodities, technological progress adds to the demand for health care and thus has an enormous potential to create exploding medical expenditures.

Remember that health care consumers today are far different from those of the past. They are well-informed, through such vehicles as the Internet and patient support groups, and they want freedom of choice and quality services. In an industry that is consumer-driven, traditional service provision by the welfare state will be less and less acceptable.

As patients demand better services and aging populations need more service, the pressure on the system will increase rapidly. With a smaller workforce anticipated for the future, the ability of health care personnel at all levels to maximize their potential and competence should increase. New paradigms for service delivery will be needed. A market-based approach that includes privatizing hospitals and outsourcing tasks-from ambulance service to laboratory services and emergency care-can increase the quality of health care overall.

By privatizing the health care delivery systems as much as possible one will foster innovation and competition. Privatized health care systems are preferable to government-run and -regulated systems because they allow more experimentation, and because they can adapt more easily to any challenges the future may bring. When the number of young people in a society declines, there are only two ways to keep the system intact: increase the burden on those at the paying end or limit the quality and availability of care for those at the receiving end. In Europe, this often has meant the restricting or denial of the best care available based merely on the age of the patient. Only under a system that allows capitalization-reserving and creating funds for the future through private investment-will the health care sector expand to meet the needs of the future.

We should take into account the special nature of health care, which is partly a moral necessity and partly an ordinary consumer good. The element that is like other consumer goods is vulnerable to overuse when provided free.

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