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EF: 2023- Brazil has successfully transitioned the Covid-19 pandemic and elected a new government. People are returning to the hospitals for regular treatments; however, the financial status of the sector is challenged, and medical costs rising - In this scenario, what are the priorities for ANAHP in the running year?
AB: The current moment in which private hospitals in Brazil find themselves is very challenging. Although we are experiencing a year of return to normality in occupancy rates compared to the pre-pandemic period, economic and financial issues are worrisome. We are under great pressure from health plan operators, with the increase in claims and an aggressive policy of disallowance and postponement of payments for hospital services. In other words, hospital institutions are providing their services normally. Still, they are not being paid as they should be, especially considering that users of health plans correspond to approximately 90% of consultations in private hospitals. Therefore, we prioritize two fundamental points: the first is to expand the daily review of costs in search of possible inefficiencies that can be cut. The second point is to inevitably postpone the investments foreseen for the year.
EF: With the advent of precision medicine, the world is witnessing a significant shift towards tailoring treatments to individual patients' needs. How is Brazil’s private hospital sector preparing for the future of personalized medicine and pushing innovative therapies in the country?
AB: Personalized medicine is a one-way street, and it represents a huge opportunity for healthcare not only in the future but at present. Promising new methods are moving towards this approach, based on non-invasive technologies, which allow identifying mutations and following the evolution of diseases in the organism. In Brazil, genomic technology has advanced in academic studies regarding personalized medicine. However, for the topic to solidify in the country, we still face several challenges, such as regulatory issues, physician training, and access by the population, which should be expanded. In addition, there is a risk that precision medicine will generate even more health costs in the case of poorly planned adoption.
EF: Last time we met, you defined Telemedicine as “probably the biggest opportunity to make Brazil more equal"- How can other technological advances be leveraged to create better access and improved patient care in Brazil?
AB: Brazil is a continental country with inequalities aggravated by geographic issues. Therefore, telemedicine, and other tools and actions with communities farther away from large centers, are essential to expanding population access to health services. We believe this advance may only be possible, taking into consideration the regional and socioeconomic particularities of the entire population. This action becomes viable only when our investments are aimed at the health system as a whole, bringing together public and private health networks. Here is where our greatest effort shall be invested.
EF: Gaining and retaining healthcare professionals has become a major challenge. What can Associations like ANAHP do to attract more talent to the healthcare sector?
AB: Talent retention is a consequence of a set of well-planned actions. Among the main factors to be highlighted are organizational environment, work configuration and condition, leadership management, career plan, compensation, training and development. In an increasingly competitive market, a solid strategy on these fronts is the key to success. Anahp has been working towards contributing to leadership training, information dissemination, and best practices aimed at assistance and management, in addition to promoting and facilitating experience exchange between professionals in the sector. We believe that when well planned, talent retention criteria will result in increased engagement and productivity, cost reduction, a more pleasant organizational environment, greater collaboration in the workplace, and, finally, strengthening the employer brand.
EF: What three pillars are required to build a more sustainable healthcare infrastructure in Brazil?
AB: Brazil is currently facing a macroeconomic crisis that undoubtedly impacts the entire system. In addition to the challenges we already face in the health sector, it is fundamental for the country to improve as a whole so that Brazilians have better living conditions, access to employment, respectable nutrition, and housing. Despite that, some factors are crucial for a more sustainable health system with less inequality. Anahp's action in the face of this challenge is based on three pillars: constant dialogue with everyone involved in the chain, including the Ministry of Health and other governmental spheres; the need to reform the entire structure of the system in search of greater efficiency, combating increasing fraud and improving the quality of products and services offered; and, finally, tax measures that consider the essentiality of the sector, such as the exemption of payroll for the hospital sector. We have to emphasize that other sectors of the Brazilian economy, including tanneries, slaughterhouses, and call centers, for example, are exempt from paying payroll contributions. It would be very important for us to get the same treatment from Congress, especially considering the great importance of the health sector.
EF: Would you like to add a final message?
AB: Brazil is a very rich country in its diversity and culture, with immense potential to advance more and more in health care for its entire population. We recognize that the moment requires care and cost containment. Still, I deeply believe that we will overcome all challenges through dialogue in order to seek solutions to benefit all parties. After all, in the way the system works today, everyone loses. We need to remain focused on reformulating the health system as a whole so that we shall grow again.