An alternative vision for Europe’s health policy

Piernicola Pedicini says the Five Star Movement favours a healthcare system where quality of services takes precedence over economic interests.

By Piernicola Pedicini

Piernicola Pedicini (IT, NA) is a shadow rapporteur for Parliament’s Reduction of the Impact of Certain Plastic Products on the Environment report

03 Oct 2014

The Five Star Movement promotes an alternative healthcare system where quality of health services takes priority over economic interests. The main objective of the movement is to reduce wasteful expenses and promote meritocracy through objective, clear and transparent criteria.

This would avoid the migration of human and economic resources from the public to the private healthcare sector and reduce political nepotism. This re-organisational project is alternative to most healthcare systems in Europe, where medical services increases have led to an inappropriate and expensive system, worsened by an important growth of waiting lists for patients. Hospital costs are steadily rising, making structural change in the healthcare system a matter of urgency.

"Hospital costs are steadily rising, making structural change in the healthcare system a matter of urgency"

In the healthcare context, it is commonly said that our progressively ageing population is the cause for cost increases, as well as medical diagnosis, treatment and assistance augmentation. Actually, the main cause of healthcare costs increases is the boom in health services, regardless of the patient's age category and sometimes lagging behind real medical needs.

Additional causes to be mentioned are: early clinical diagnosis (leading to longer treatment therapy), continuous lowering of the illness definition threshold, rising costs for clinical diagnosis procedures, pharmaceutical treatments, and devices and surgery.

Nowadays, healthcare systems are based on financing healthcare institutes per amount of medical services performed. This means that the institutes receive more funds from the state proportional to how many services are performed. Needless to say, this system has increased the number of services without a corresponding improvement in the health of our populations, and with sometimes negative effects on patients.

The alternative system, supported by the Five Star Movement, is based on the allocation of funds to regions according to the outcome of their healthcare policies. This means that more funds should be allocated to best performing healthcare institutes, taking into account, for instance, population longevity, successful diagnosis and treatment, as well as whether efficient illness prevention strategies have been undertaken, thus promoting the principle of 'paying for health, not the disease'.

In practice, this type of healthcare system policy should automatically lead to an increase in prevention, cost reduction and a removal of health risk factors. This can be done by, for example, phasing out incineration plants, banning oil extraction, as well as disposal of radioactive waste, reducing electro-smog in urban areas, eliminating asbestos-containing materials and securing any practice with potential environmentally harmful effects.

The Five Star Movement also supports the promotion of using generic and off-patent medicines; the fostering of medical prescriptions of active ingredients rather than a specific brand medicine; and the promotion of healthcare education on the correct use of medicines, their risks and benefits. We also encourage healthy lifestyles and responsible consumer choices; the adoption of quality criteria to measure healthcare performances; and the introduction of clear, objective and transparent criteria in the appointment and confirmation of hospital managers.

In addition we believe in the need to establish online and publicly available patient waiting lists as well as information points where medical examinations can be booked online. Finally, the group encourages the setting of audiovisual telecommunications healthcare consultation where the doctor can visit the patient from the institute; free data access to enhance de-hospitalisation, home care treatment and telemedicine, which would improve the quality of the treatment and at the same time reduce costs; and promote and fund independent research, rather than that of pharmaceutical companies, and natural medicine.

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