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The holy grail of low-cost, high-quality healthcare

The last decade has seen a massive explosion in the number of people achieving middle class financial status. Over a billion people worldwide – with a combined wealth of US$33 trillion – now occupy this new, influential, fast-growing population group.

Such a powerful demographic shift is transforming the way countries with developing and maturing health systems think about the financing and provision of care. Governments, payers and providers are seeking to find high-quality, cost-effective solutions to meet the rising expectations of this new aspirant middle class without creating the unsustainable high-cost models found in the West.

The low-cost challenge

The individual building blocks of creating low-cost, high-quality health systems are well understood. Assembling them is difficult in environments that are shaped by immature insurance systems, unregistered private providers, and widely held assumptions that high-tech and high prices automatically equal good quality.

Successful low-cost systems require coordinated action across a wide range of areas. They also need markets that function effectively, with appropriate incentives for payers, providers and patients. Facilities need to be flexible, clinical quality must be routinely regulated and processes such as procurement should be standardised where possible.

Above all, the focus on provision has to move beyond simply looking at ‘low-cost per transaction; towards a system that seeks to create value along the whole care pathway and beyond this to managing population health.

Six key strategies

Emerging health economies are challenging traditional models of care and succeeding with innovative, low-cost alternatives.

Based on the insights of 75 healthcare leaders from around the world, KPMG believes there are six key areas emerging health systems must focus on in order to keep costs down without compromising on quality:

  • People – redesign roles, processes and training to ensure staff are operating at the full extent of their license and training;
  • Pathways – separate complex and routine work, identify bottlenecks, and move away from ‘batching’ treatments;
  • Standardisation – demonstrate strong commercial discipline to get the most out of pharmaceutical and equipment purchasing;
  • Environment – focus on the use of flexible, future-proof, energy-efficient buildings;
  • Technology – use technology such as smartphones, point-of-care testing and portable diagnostics to bring services and decision-making closer to patients;
  • Governance – create management structures that empower frontline staff and encourage experimentation.

What the case studies have to say

Necessity: The Mother of Invention is a recent KPMG report featuring over 15 case studies from successful low-cost systems. Not only do the findings offer value to developing countries’ healthcare systems but many of the approaches explored could also be adapted by higher income countries struggling to manage rising costs of care.

Click here to download the report.


David Okwara

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