Enabling transformation through smart finance

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has placed even greater pressure on already-stretched healthcare systems, Chris Wilkinson of Siemens Financial Services (SFS) explains why harnessing private capital is essential for healthcare organisations to transform their ability to deliver value

Smart finance can help healthcare trusts to unlock capital to fund next-generation technology

Healthcare management in countries across the world has been undergoing a radical transformation.

Health authorities are focusing on creating healthier societies to contain and reduce healthcare demand.

And investment is being targeted toward mobile diagnostics in communities to help spot signs of a disease before it develops.

The goal is to make healthcare systems sustainable and affordable long into the future.

To create healthier societies, however, requires an upfront investment in modern, usually-digitalised technologies that spot disease indicators very early to prevent the need for costly lifelong treatment.

The more-restricted ways of working due to the pandemic cannot be allowed to delay other treatments, many of which are experiencing a backlog

Now the Coronavirus pandemic has added further pressures and the demands on an already-transforming system have been increased by a sudden need to also invest in touch-free technology, smart HVAC for airflow management, and other infection control measures in healthcare buildings.

At the same time, the more-restricted ways of working due to the pandemic cannot be allowed to delay other treatments, many of which are experiencing a backlog.

Digital capabilities are delivering value managing the pandemic – and these innovations will also continue to improve access to healthcare and procedural efficiencies long into the future.

As such, new ways of thinking about health systems are being proposed which regard healthcare as an ‘investment’ with concomitant returns (‘value’).

This comes alongside accelerated recognition of the growing importance and ‘value’ of digitalised medical technology – whether by delivering pathway productivity, diagnostic accuracy and speed, automated support for clinicians, improved patient outcomes, or enhanced healthcare worker safety in the light of the pandemic.

To create healthier societies requires an upfront investment in modern, usually-digitalised technologies that spot disease indicators very early to prevent the need for costly lifelong treatment

However, the ‘elephant in the room’ is how to make that investment financially sustainable.

In a world that will be experiencing the economic aftershocks of the global pandemic for some considerable time, capital remains very constrained – both for public and private organisations.

Healthcare systems around the world have been experiencing shortages in capital expenditure budgets for some time, and authorities have widely acknowledged that the required investment simply cannot be afforded out of the public purse.

Harnessing private sector capital is, therefore, essential to the healthcare transformation and its underlying investment in new-generation technology – especially at a time when the pandemic has placed even-greater pressure on already-stretched systems.

Smart finance, which harnesses private sector capital, is essential for healthcare organisations to transform their ability to deliver value.

Not only does smart finance make new-generation equipment and technology affordable; it also liberates capital expenditure which would otherwise be ‘frozen’ in the outright purchase of technology.

By using financing arrangements, these funds remain liquid and available for other urgent and tactical needs.

The most-effective ‘smart’ financing arrangements tend to come from specialist financiers who understand the ways healthcare organisations work, the technologies they deploy, and the likely real-world benefits that technology investments will produce.

This specialist knowledge enables the finance provider to flex and structure financing arrangements and periods so that they are truly sustainable for each healthcare organisation, aligning payments with the operating and clinical improvements gained.

Healthcare systems around the world have been experiencing shortages in capital expenditure budgets for some time, and authorities have widely acknowledged that the required investment simply cannot be afforded out of the public purse

The latest paper from Siemens Financial Services (SFS) models the level of funds that can be liberated by smart finance – rather than being ‘frozen’ and made illiquid if applied to outright technology purchases.

At a broad strategic level, SFS has established a model that indicates the relative value that different countries’ health systems are delivering and how that is changing over time.

The model also provides context for the role of smart finance in enabling value delivery through financially sustainable next-generation technology acquisition.

In consultation with a group of senior healthcare managers and management consultants from 14 countries spanning the globe, SFS has constructed an indicative model of resource pressure and patient outcomes for each country.

First published in 2018, the 2020 updated edition’s results are published in the latest SFS insight paper.

Not only does smart finance make new-generation equipment and technology affordable; it also liberates capital expenditure which would otherwise be ‘frozen’ in the outright purchase of technology

The model is deliberately simple and transparent and uses official datasets and other datasets collected consistently across the countries studied.

Both resource pressure trends and patient outcome improvements are intimately connected to smart finance solutions.

The ability to acquire new-generation technology helps ease resource pressure by introducing more-efficient and effective therapies – along with greater access to preventative procedures such as screening and scanning.

Equally, smarter financial management optimises the availability of funds with which to maximise the impact of resources – human and technological – so that it transforms patient care and produces improved patient outcomes, both therapeutic and preventative.

The resulting healthier societies, where demand for healthcare is contained or even reduced, are the ultimate ‘value’ from healthcare investment.

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