Veta Health | April 7, 2018
The World Health Organization is celebrating their 70th anniversary, and this year will focus on “Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere” – ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship. According to the WHO, universal health coverage is defined as: all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship. Making and sustaining progress towards Universal Health Coverage requires strong and sustained commitment from organizations and individuals all over the world.
Veta Health is committed to improving access to care through our technology platform across populations. We utilize our digital health solutions to empower all patients as leaders in their care, effectively scaling care management and giving providers the tools to increase transparency into patients plans actively and remotely.
“No one should have to choose between death and financial hardship. No one should have to choose between buying medicine and buying food.”
Tedros Adhanom, WHO Director
We asked some members of the Veta Health team how they think about Universal Health Coverage and what it means to them, as we work together to improve the healthcare delivery system on a global level.
Q: Today is world health day and the focus this year is achieving Universal Health Coverage. How do you define universal health coverage?
A: Nora Zetsche, MD – Universal Health Coverage to me means individuals of a country’s population are given equal opportunity of access to basic healthcare services. This takes into account that across a population, individuals will have varying means and needs and as such the system has to dynamically respond to offset the imbalance. In Germany, universal health coverage is already a reality. Every German resident is required to obtain at least statutory health insurance and based on the financial status, the payment is subsidized. This means anyone in Germany has access to preventative health screenings, primary care & speciality visits, and can afford being treated in hospitals for short or long-term illnesses. Especially providing broad access to preventative medicine can facilitate the reduction of the overall healthcare cost, barring you are able to motivate individuals to take advantage of the services. Even in Germany, the struggle remains that we don’t like to think about healthcare unless we are forced to do so by an illness. So in my opinion, universal health coverage needs to go hand-in-hand with broader healthcare education to foster motivation for prevention and healthy habits in healthcare consumers.
Q: In order to achieve universal health coverage, many factors have to be considered such as: finances, policies, information technology, health workers and medications – What according to you is the most important factor in achieving universal health coverage?
A: Christine Kelly – The factors that impact a shift to universal healthcare globally all have an important consideration when strategically planning implementing change over time. In my opinion, a factor that is complex and will have a high impact being able to achieve universal coverage is a greater number of primary care services available.
In an age of technology, we have the ability to provide access to these services beyond traditional care settings, and I feel strongly that bringing together the innovations we’ve made in care delivery to focus them on increasing access to primary care services would be highly effective. As we reevaluate the way that we spend health care dollars, and continue challenging traditional health care delivery methods with the goal to provide better care for a greater number of populations we’ll make catalyze the forward progress we need.
Achieving universal health coverage won’t just impact one individual or population. Why does it matter to you that the world achieves universal health coverage? What impact could it have on populations?
A: Sheena Thakkar, MPH – Healthcare coverage is essential in sustaining a balanced economic and socially developed community or country. Achieving universal healthcare would have a direct impact on a population’s health and welfare. Providing educational resources would be eye opening to individuals around the world who are unaware of the circumstances in not using health services. I have had the privilege of traveling to different countries around the world and providing medical care in places where individuals could not afford to do so. Seeing the discrepancies and lack of education in the health systems across the world was eye-opening to me. I plan to work towards achieving universal health coverage so that those families and communities have the same opportunities I do when it comes to obtaining health coverage.
The dilemma for most countries, is that they are not able to provide everyone with all the health services they need at an affordable price – What services and populations would be highest priority/impact for roll out of universal health coverage?
A: Tanvi Abbhi – Universal health coverage is most impactful for high-risk patients suffering from long-term illness that needs to be effectively managed over time. This could be a patient born with a heart defect to a patient suffering from Type 2 diabetes to a patient diagnosed with cancer. Irrespective of the condition, the age of the patient, or the stage of illness, all patients deserve high-quality, personalized care. Additionally, advances in technology are allowing us to look at risk factors based on a variety of variables from lifestyle to environment to genomics. Universal health coverage therefore needs to focus not only on responsive or reactive care, but also on identifying patients who are at-risk before they become high risk.
What abilities does technology have in order to help achieve universal health coverage? What is Veta Health specifically doing to help achieve that goal?
A: Paul Gentile – Technology has the ability to reach more patients across populations, extending care delivery where traditionally there may be fewer resources, examples being, areas deemed rural or critical access areas. The abilities we have with technology in innovating care delivery and achieving a universal healthcare model at lower costs are:
- Connectivity and data capture of patients and providers covering a wide array of health factors, from nutrition to fitness to emotional well being
- Awareness and statistical models to process large patient populations and demonstrate the effectiveness of universal health coverage
- Accountability and transparency of care methods and standards.
- Ability to encrypt the data so that only the persons with permission from the patient can access the data and insights.
At Veta Health we’re working on solutions to help in each of these areas to better enable the health care delivery system to build stronger relationships with patients in non traditional settings.