The financial management of hospitals and health insurance companies, drug policy and the interactions between health care professionals and pharmaceutical companies are a gauge of our anti-corruption efforts in healthcare services. We are fighting for more health-related information to ensure more qualified decisions of patients and officials as well.
Why Is It a Problem?
There are real lives at stake in the health care system. Corruption leads to an ineffective system which, in the worst cases, can result in so called avoidable deaths. This means that dozens of people are dying unnecessarily every year, because there wasn’t enough money for their medical treatment due to cronyistic and wasteful allocation of contracts or overpricing of purchases. Briberies and favouring of the private interests of health care professionals also multiply the inaccessibility of effective medical treatment. Ignorance of the impacts of corruption, of the ethical dimension of services and mainly of the impunity of those in responsibility paralyzes the functioning of the Slovak health care services.
To minimize the space for unethical behaviour and corruption in the health care system, we use various tools of public scrutiny. By analyzing the tenders of hospitals we point out the weaknesses of the system and suggest steps to make the public tenders more effective. We compare the transparency levels of hospitals in order to increase the economy and transparency of their management. We evaluate personnel policies and suggest actions for greater openness in selection procedures for the management of hospitals and the state-owned health insurance company (VšZP). We monitor the contracts made by health insurance companies and fight for clear rules for this process. We survey the transfer of values between pharmaceutical companies and doctors with an emphasis on the risk of conflicts of interest. By organizing local trainings, we try to involve the public in the analytical and investigative part of the process. We lead dialogues with stakeholders and take part in the decision-making processes of the regulatory and advisory bodies of the sector to achieve systemic changes.
By pointing out wasteful tenders of hospitals, we helped to start up centralized purchases and benchmarking of medical equipment. By uncovering unreasonably advantageous positions of some health care providers of computed tomography and by fighting persistently for clear criteria for the allocation of contracts, we helped induce the VšZP to make personnel changes in its management. The appointment of Transparency International to the new Supervisory Board of VšZP is an acknowledgement of our effort. This means we can directly influence the decision-making processes of VšZP. We participated in the drafting of the amendment to the act on drugs which will help uncover conflicts of interests in the pharmaceutical industry. We have released several case studies, publications and blogs with recommendations on the process of state reimbursement of drugs, procurement and oversight authorities in health care services.