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Industry calls for global healthcare systems to be benchmarked

Published on 13/10/06 at 04:08pm

Fred Hassan, chief executive of Schering-Plough and new head of an international pharma industry organisation, has called for greater transparency in the world's healthcare systems, with a 'scorecard' to benchmark their performances.

Delivering a far-reaching and ambitious inaugural speech as president of the IFPMA, Hassan said the absence of global standards was holding back healthcare in countries around the world.

He identified four barriers:

Lack of access to health education and information

Innovation not encouraged

Inconsistencies across regulatory systems

Lack of transparency and accountability

Commenting on the final barrier, Hassan said: "Today, health systems around the world are basically black boxes. They lack openness, transparency and accountability. We need to open up those systems."

He continued: "It is peculiar that consumers today can easily compare the fuel efficiencies of automobiles being considered for purchase or the annual running costs of refrigerators, yet they cannot easily compare the quality of health outcomes delivered by different doctors, hospitals, private health plans or regional state-sponsored health systems."

The IFPMA's new president presented detailed plans on how to break down the barriers, namely by holding health systems accountable by using scorecards on how each performs on key areas of healthcare.

"In this way, individual patients, citizens and taxpayers will see clearly what are the best investments for delivering quality care - for the whole patient, over their lifetime of care," Hassan added.

The five suggested metrics are:

1 Health literacy, health promotion and disease prevention.

 These metrics should include reduction in obesity and smoking, and

 increasing exercise.

2 Control of high blood pressure.

3 Control of haemoglobin A1C - a key measurement of diabetes control.

4 Control of high LDL cholesterol.

5 Vaccinations for children and adults

"In short, a transparent, benchmarked, metrics-based approach to health is the right thing to do for the patients," said Hassan. "By promoting healthcare innovation and promoting healthcare transparency and accountability, our societies will get the most value from their healthcare investments."

Hassan takes over the IFPMA presidency from Novartis chief executive Daniel Vasella, and will hold the post for two years. The organisation could be set for a more high-profile role under its new US-based leader, who has pledged to make it  a "credible catalyst" in influencing the global health agenda.

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