One of the biggest projects in the infrastructure and healthcare sector in BiH is the construction of the first private general hospital in BiH. The investor is ASA Grupacija, and the director of the ASA Hospital project, Professor Rasim Jusufović, spoke to Klix.ba on this occasion.
What can you tell us about this project? How did the idea for such an investment come about?
The investor in the construction of the hospital is the ASA Group. The idea to establish a hospital was born in 2015, when the ASA Group acquired the Eurofarm polyclinic. At that time, Eurofarm had 15 employees, and today, due to the expansion of its operations, it has become the largest private healthcare institution in BiH and employs 200 people and is located in 13 locations. Through the strategy of expanding health services, the idea of moving from primary ambulatory care to hospital health care was initiated, which resulted in the beginning of the construction of the first private general hospital in Bosnia and Herzegovina, ASA Hospital.
What is the financial framework and what is the role of the Medical University of Vienna in this project?
At this moment, we cannot talk about the financial construction. The role of the Medical University in Vienna is the development of the quality and safety management system according to the highest international standards, the continuous education of staff, and the clinical management of ASA Hospital by renowned European experts and the development of joint scientific and research programs. We are opening a new hospital and we want to ensure efficient, safe and scientifically supported hospital management from the very beginning.
In contrast to polyclinics, this is something completely different, in order to quickly create an acronym for the realization of a clinic of excellence, we were looking for a partner around the world.
We talked to many clinics around the world, but we realized that Vienna is culturally and geographically the closest to us, also due to the fact that we have noticed that recently a large number of patients are being treated in that hospital. We decided to talk to the AKH hospital managed by the Medical University of Vienna to try to agree a strategic partnership agreement with them so that they would clinically manage our hospital. We have agreed that the way it is treated at AKH is that we want it to be done here. We wanted to keep that skeleton, all those standard operating procedures, to have everything done by them.
Their experts work full-time with us, the morning meeting is led by the medical director in English with all department heads. The head nurse also comes from AKH, who also conducts the meeting in English according to all the standards that are held in Vienna. With this, we wanted to provide clinical expertise to know exactly how each thing is going on in the hospital, that it is documented through the quality assurance system. That’s why we reached out to one of the most famous institutions of such caliber in Europe and made a contract with them. We are now in the phase of creating a safety quality system, but we are also preparing for the new wave of employment that is ahead of us.
Do you have any numbers, how many beds will there be in the hospital, how many employees will there be?
The hospital will have 170 beds spread over seven floors. In the fifth year of operation, when we reach our maximum, we will have 470 employees. Now, in two weeks, a public advertisement for the employment of 350 people will start. We will create a separate website for this, for all positions including doctors, nurses, support staff and drivers, all will be covered by this call. At the end of this year and the beginning of the next, we will have all the names, and then we will send them to Vienna for additional training if necessary.
A special part of the team deals with the research of equipment and IT solutions that we plan to use, so neither in that segment, nor in the others, absolutely nothing is left to chance. In addition to the most technologically advanced medical equipment that we carefully select, we have also cooperated with Dedalus, one of the largest global health software companies in the world. We chose this partner because of our focus on digitalization and the provision of more efficient healthcare services that will be supported by proven, established and complete healthcare software. Also, all processes and movements of materials and people in the hospital are mapped and simulated in a special 3D application in order to optimize and manage them in the best way. This enables us to correctly dimension the necessary space, personnel, medical and other technology.
Will patients in this hospital be able to have all the services they have, for example, at KCUS or other public hospitals?
After all, KCUS is a place of tertiary health care. We’ll cover all the services you can get at any general hospital, but we say that’s just the beginning. We want to be a general hospital that will eventually develop centers of excellence, and ultimately include segments of tertiary health care.
It is clear that it is a private hospital and that patients will pay for services, but will there be any services that citizens will receive for free? Will the general hospital be connected to health insurance institutes?
As a health system, we already have signed contracts with the cantonal fund, some of our services are already on the lists financed by public health funds. This evolution of the healthcare system in Bosnia and Herzegovina follows the evolution that took place in Slovenia, Poland, and the Czech Republic. In such systems, one part is paid, another part is paid extra, and the third part is taken over by the health insurance, whether it is public mandatory or voluntary hospital health insurance.
We expect the expansion of this cooperation, there are announcements that there will be such an expansion in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The presence of our medical service will be in the best synergy with ASA Insurance, which is currently the largest insurance company in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our service will be paid for by patients partly through public funds, partly through private payments, and mostly through voluntary health insurance.
We can talk about the gradual transformation of the entire healthcare system, will there be some resistance to this because citizens are used to healthcare being free? Do you expect problems and difficulties, how do you plan to overcome them?
We started working on it with experts from the field of insurance and we almost had a meeting with companies from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia that went through this evolution. We had a big round table in August when we gathered decision makers from the health system, so there were representatives of the Sarajevo Canton health insurance fund, macroeconomic analysts, owners of private institutions, and we talked about the evolution of health care. I believe that we in Bosnia and Herzegovina have experts who can help us in the best way to reform health care, which will make services affordable, using the best practices of neighboring countries that have successfully gone through this process.
In recent years, we have had a tendency to leave medical workers, do you expect to return some workers to BiH and will you be able to achieve all goals with personnel from BiH?
This is what we are working on the most at the moment, we are extremely proud that our presentations provoked a response from our experts around the world. So we already have signed preliminary employment contracts with top experts who work around the world. These people are leaders in their departments and these people have learned medicine based on Western standards. It is a group of doctors who return to Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue their career here.
I must mention another group of doctors who are the stars of healthcare and who from their current positions will provide support and mentorship to the development of certain services. Among others it is prof. Dr. Kenan Arnautović, a world-renowned expert who works in the USA. He made his knowledge and experience available to us and wants to be a mentor in the development of spine surgery and, consequently, neurosurgery. Also, Prof. dr. Nadan Rustemović, a gastroenterologist who is the talk of the world’s professional community, a professor at KBC Rebro who also expressed his willingness to support the development of our gastroenterology department. Ultimately, we will hire and engage the best domestic experts, but also our best people from abroad, as well as mentors who are currently the best experts in the world.
Can you give us a little more detail about the research and education department within the hospital, what will be its function and purpose?
It is about the fact that we want the ASA hospital to become an ASA university hospital soon. We want it to be open to all students where they can learn the best practices. For this we need a research center that will collect, process and publish the results of our work. We want to bring this superior medicine, which we will offer to our citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the professional world public. Every doctor employed by us will have the obligation and task to publish the results of his work. This is precisely why this institute for scientific research is important to us. The doctors with whom we have already signed pre-contracts have somehow attracted the industry as well. Those manufacturers of medical equipment approached us in order to jointly create that part of the hospital’s information system, which is necessary for them to be able to successfully conduct clinical trials.
When do you expect the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be able to start using the services of the ASA Hospital?
We plan to open the hospital at full capacity for our patients in the last quarter of 2023, and before that we have to launch an education program in the field of prevention of chronic diseases. If you want to follow the progress of the construction of our hospital, all information is available at www.asabolnica.ba. It is also a place where citizens can communicate with us, write to us if they have questions or suggestions.