“Healthcare as an investment” solutions for better and faster patient services

“Healthcare as an Investment” forum organized by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the Association of innovative pharmaceutical manufacturers in BiH (UIPL) and IQVIA.

New ways of financing healthcare, strengthening private and public partnerships and the need to digitalise the health sector are the topics that should be prioritized on the agenda of the relevant decision-makers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to establish a more functional and quality healthcare system that will provide full service to all patients. The event brought together eminent foreign and local experts from the world of medicine, pharmacy, economy, as well as the IT sector.

The forum was opened by the deputy head of the US Embassy Mission to BiH, Deborah Mennuti, and the head of the Division of the European Union Delegation to BiH for European Integration, Political Affairs, Media and Information, Krasimir Nikolov. In their speeches, Ms. Mennuti and Mr. Nikolov supported the need for health reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina along the lines of other developed countries. Mr. Nikolov also referred to the European Commission’s (EC) new report on BiH’s progress in reforms, but also talked about the need to improve BiH’s healthcare.

“The topics of this forum are of great importance for the health sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina, given the depleted resources due to the pandemic, which has shown us how much we need a stronger and more flexible system that can respond more quickly and efficiently to the needs of citizens. Ultimately, the goal is to get better control of costs, greater transparency of the health system process as well as full monitoring of the outcome of patients’ treatment”, said the UIPL director Ana Petrović.

The main conclusions of the forum are as follows: to accelerate the availability of medicines to patients, especially those already approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA); to introduce new, more efficient models of health financing; and to implement digitalisation and necessary changes to the legislation in the health sector of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“In order for any of these conclusions to come to life, we need additional education of healthcare workers and patients, introduction to new technologies in healthcare, as well as development of a strategy on digitalisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Ms. Petrović added.

Panellists agreed with the findings of a study performed by IQVIA – Patient WAIT Study – that it is unacceptable to wait more than 700 days in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a drug approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). They concluded that there is no justifiable reason why EU-approved medicines should not be available in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the same time.

During the forum, participants also expressed the standpoints that new sources of funds for financing BiH’s healthcare could be found in excise duties and European funds. Jasmina Selimović, dean of the Faculty of Economics in Sarajevo, said that the current way of financing the health system in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not sustainable and that a transition is inevitable.

“Our system is too fragmented and has no arrangement at the State level. Excise duties are something that is absolutely not properly used as a possible income in healthcare”, said Ms. Selimović.

Vlatka Martinović, director of the FBiH Health Insurance and Reinsurance Institute, Siniša Skočibušić, director of the FBiH Institute of Public Health, Rasim Jusufović, assistant at the Medical Faculty of the SSST University, and Michal Pilkiewicz, general director of IQVIA for the Adriatic and Baltic regions also spoke about improving the accessibility of healthcare to patients. With the moderation of Tarik Čatić from the Medical Faculty of SSST, also the panellists of the discussion on digitalisation had very practical and significant presentations.

Doc. dr. Rasim Jusufović, assistant at the Medical Faculty of the SSST University and director of the ASA Hospital project, pointed out that it is necessary to assess health technologies currently available within the existing health facilities. It is also necessary to improve the treatment of certain diseases by finding the best treatment methods that are more effective than those currently used, as well as simplify treatment methods. The reliance on the private sector is inevitable, and it represents a solution providing a high level of healthcare and services.

He pointed out that the construction of the largest private hospital in the Western Balkans, ASA Hospital, is underway, and it will improve the level of health services in our country, as well as in the region. Jusufović said that the first general private hospital will use modern IT solutions and will provide a comprehensive database with data that will have a disease register, which will enable monitoring of long-term effects and network so that colleagues from the pharmaceutical industry can make better decisions.

Saša Đurkas, IQVIA Technology Solutions Director for the Adriatic and Baltic Regions, Amir Sarić, Country Lead Cisco for BiH and Albania, Igor Bojanić, Technical Director of Lanaco Healthcare Software Solutions Company, Samir Dedović, Director of MeDIT Sarajevo, Enes Hatibović, Head of IT Sector at ASA Medical, and ma. iur. Ervin Mujkić, head of the Legal Department at the University Clinical Centre (UKC) in Tuzla, pointed out that there is both hardware and software solutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina that can transfer a lot of paper data into a digital format. However, it is also necessary to improve procedures in public procurement, as well as to improve the digital literacy of our society as a whole.

Enes Hatibović, Head of IT Sector at ASA Medical, pointed out that IT solutions within ASA Hospital through hospital simulation and process optimization, in addition to high standards in providing medical treatments, will also work on reducing patient waiting time as well as monitoring the patient in real time through the application. Patient safety will be at the highest level through indoor mapping and many other IT solutions that have not been available in Bosnia and Herzegovina so far.

On behalf of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in BiH, the Secretary General Nedim Hamzić highlighted the organisers’ intention that such forums should continue to be a place of exchange of ideas and initiatives that will help with reforms.

Jasmina Efendić, director of IQVIA for BiH, pointed out the importance of digitalisation and processing of existing available data in healthcare with the aim of better transparency of the health sector. Representatives of the legislative and executive authorities in BiH, including Sarajevo Canton Health Minister Haris Vranić, also attended the forum.