Dutch health council: set targets for medical care

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Health care in the Netherlands is lagging behind, says the Council for Public Health and Health Care RVZ. The government’s advisory body on public health says life expectancy is lower than in neighbouring EU countries and there are marked differences in health standards in the country’s different regions.

The RVZ wants to adopt a business model approach by working with clearly defined ‘health targets’. Family doctors would set health targets for their patients. The RVZ has told Health Minister Edith Schippers that local and national authorities should become more involved in setting standards and trends in health care.

Health targets are “measurable”, specific and can be easily monitored, says the RVZ. All the parties involved can see if a target has been reached – if the patient can walk within two weeks after an operation, for example. Indefinite treatment is discouraged in most cases.

Just as in business, working with targets would ultimately help to reduce health care costs, claims the council. The RVZ cites examples of health care projects in the US and the UK that use this target-based model. In the Netherlands, a similar project - aimed at helping overweight children - was set up in part of the province of Utrecht and is regarded as a success.

The RVZ proposes that funding within the health sector should focus on reaching these health targets. Under the current system, family doctors or GPs are funded on the basis of how many times they are consulted by their patients.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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