A health system, also sometimes referred to as health care system or as healthcare system, is the organization of people, institutions, and resources that deliver health care services to meet the health needs of target populations.
An organization or organisation is an entity comprising multiple people, such as an institution or an association, that has a particular purpose.
Health care, health-care, or healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health via the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in people. Health care is delivered by health professionals in allied health fields. Physicians and physician associates are a part of these health professionals. Dentistry, midwifery, nursing, medicine, optometry, audiology, pharmacy, psychology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other health professions are all part of health care. It includes work done in providing primary care, secondary care, and tertiary care, as well as in public health.
There is a wide variety of health systems around the world, with as many histories and organizational structures as there are nations. Implicitly, nations must design and develop health systems in accordance with their needs and resources, although common elements in virtually all health systems are primary healthcare and public health measures.In some countries, health system planning is distributed among market participants. In others, there is a concerted effort among governments, trade unions, charities, religious organizations, or other co-ordinated bodies to deliver planned health care services targeted to the populations they serve. However, health care planning has been described as often evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
An organizational structure defines how activities such as task allocation, coordination, and supervision are directed toward the achievement of organizational aims.
Primary Health Care, or PHC, refers to "essential health care" that is based on scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology, which make universal health care accessible to all individuals and families in a community. It is through their full participation and at a cost that the community and the country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination. In other words, PHC is an approach to health beyond the traditional health care system that focuses on health equity-producing social policy. PHC includes all areas that play a role in health, such as access to health services, environment and lifestyle. Thus, primary healthcare and public health measures, taken together, may be considered as the cornerstones of universal health systems. The World Health Organization, or WHO, elaborates on the goals of PHC as defined by three major categories, "empowering people and communities, multisectoral policy and action; and primary care and essential public health functions as the core of integrated health services." Based on these definitions, PHC can not only help an individual after being diagnosed with a disease or disorder, but actively prevent such issues by understanding the individual as a whole.
Public health has been defined as "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals". Analyzing the health of a population and the threats it faces is the basis for public health. The public can be as small as a handful of people or as large as a village or an entire city; in the case of a pandemic it may encompass several continents. The concept of health takes into account physical, psychological and social well-being. As such, according to the World Health Organization, it is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
The World Health Organization (WHO), the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system, is promoting a goal of universal health care: to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them. According to WHO, healthcare systems' goals are good health for the citizens, responsiveness to the expectations of the population, and fair means of funding operations. Progress towards them depends on how systems carry out four vital functions: provision of health care services, resource generation, financing, and stewardship.Other dimensions for the evaluation of health systems include quality, efficiency, acceptability, and equity. They have also been described in the United States as "the five C's": Cost, Coverage, Consistency, Complexity, and Chronic Illness. Also, continuity of health care is a major goal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its predecessor, the Health Organization, was an agency of the League of Nations.
Universal healthcare is a health care system that provides health care and financial protection to all residents of a particular country or region. It is organized around providing a specified package of benefits to all members of a society with the end goal of providing financial risk protection, improved access to health services, and improved health outcomes.
Health equity synonymous with health disparity refers to the study and causes of differences in the quality of health and healthcare across different populations. Health equity is different from health equality, as it refers only to the absence of disparities in controllable or remediable aspects of health. It is not possible to work towards complete equality in health, as there are some factors of health that are beyond human influence. Inequity implies some kinds of social injustice. Thus, if one population dies younger than another because of genetic differences, a non-remediable/controllable factor, we tend to say that there is a health inequality. On the other hand, if a population has a lower life expectancy due to lack of access to medications, the situation would be classified as a health inequity. These inequities may include differences in the "presence of disease, health outcomes, or access to health care" between populations with a different race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.
Often health system has been defined with a reductionist perspective, for example reducing it to healthcare system. In many publications, for example, both expressions are used interchangeably. Some authorshave developed arguments to expand the concept of health systems, indicating additional dimensions that should be considered:
The World Health Organization defines health systems as follows:
A health system consists of all organizations, people and actions whose primary intent is to promote, restore or maintain health. This includes efforts to influence determinants of health as well as more direct health-improving activities. A health system is therefore more than the pyramid of publicly owned facilities that deliver personal health services. It includes, for example, a mother caring for a sick child at home; private providers; behaviour change programmes; vector-control campaigns; health insurance organizations; occupational health and safety legislation. It includes inter-sectoral action by health staff, for example, encouraging the ministry of education to promote female education, a well known determinant of better health.
Healthcare providers are institutions or individuals providing healthcare services. Individuals including health professionals and allied health professions can be self-employed or working as an employee in a hospital, clinic, or other health care institution, whether government operated, private for-profit, or private not-for-profit (e.g. non-governmental organization). They may also work outside of direct patient care such as in a government health department or other agency, medical laboratory, or health training institution. Examples of health workers are doctors, nurses, midwives, dietitians, paramedics, dentists, medical laboratory technologists, therapists, psychologists, pharmacists, chiropractors, optometrists, community health workers, traditional medicine practitioners, and others.
There are generally five primary methods of funding health systems:
Most countries' systems feature a mix of all five models. One studybased on data from the OECD concluded that all types of health care finance "are compatible with" an efficient health system. The study also found no relationship between financing and cost control.
The term health insurance is generally used to describe a form of insurance that pays for medical expenses. It is sometimes used more broadly to include insurance covering disability or long-term nursing or custodial care needs. It may be provided through a social insurance program, or from private insurance companies. It may be obtained on a group basis (e.g., by a firm to cover its employees) or purchased by individual consumers. In each case premiums or taxes protect the insured from high or unexpected health care expenses.
By estimating the overall cost of health care expenses, a routine finance structure (such as a monthly premium or annual tax) can be developed, ensuring that money is available to pay for the health care benefits specified in the insurance agreement. The benefit is typically administered by a government agency, a non-profit health fund or a corporation operating seeking to make a profit.
Many forms of commercial health insurance control their costs by restricting the benefits that are paid by through deductibles, co-payments, coinsurance, policy exclusions, and total coverage limits and will severely restrict or refuse coverage of pre-existing conditions. Many government schemes also have co-payment schemes but exclusions are rare because of political pressure. The larger insurance schemes may also negotiate fees with providers.
Many forms of social insurance schemes control their costs by using the bargaining power of their community they represent to control costs in the health care delivery system. For example, by negotiating drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies negotiating standard fees with the medical profession, or reducing unnecessary health care costs. Social schemes sometimes feature contributions related to earnings as part of a scheme to deliver universal health care, which may or may not also involve the use of commercial and non-commercial insurers. Essentially the more wealthy pay proportionately more into the scheme to cover the needs of the relatively poor who therefore contribute proportionately less. There are usually caps on the contributions of the wealthy and minimum payments that must be made by the insured (often in the form of a minimum contribution, similar to a deductible in commercial insurance models).
In addition to these traditional health care financing methods, some lower income countries and development partners are also implementing non-traditional or innovative financing mechanisms for scaling up delivery and sustainability of health care,such as micro-contributions, public-private partnerships, and market-based financial transaction taxes. For example, as of June 2011, UNITAID had collected more than one billion dollars from 29 member countries, including several from Africa, through an air ticket solidarity levy to expand access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in 94 countries.
In most countries, wage costs for healthcare practitioners are estimated to represent between 65% and 80% of renewable health system expenditures.There are three ways to pay medical practitioners: fee for service, capitation, and salary. There has been growing interest in blending elements of these systems.
Fee-for-service arrangements pay general practitioners (GPs) based on the service.They are even more widely used for specialists working in ambulatory care.
There are two ways to set fee levels:
In capitation payment systems , GPs are paid for each patient on their "list", usually with adjustments for factors such as age and gender.According to OECD, "these systems are used in Italy (with some fees), in all four countries of the United Kingdom (with some fees and allowances for specific services), Austria (with fees for specific services), Denmark (one third of income with remainder fee for service), Ireland (since 1989), the Netherlands (fee-for-service for privately insured patients and public employees) and Sweden (from 1994). Capitation payments have become more frequent in "managed care" environments in the United States."
According to OECD, "Capitation systems allow funders to control the overall level of primary health expenditures, and the allocation of funding among GPs is determined by patient registrations. However, under this approach, GPs may register too many patients and under-serve them, select the better risks and refer on patients who could have been treated by the GP directly. Freedom of consumer choice over doctors, coupled with the principle of "money following the patient" may moderate some of these risks. Aside from selection, these problems are likely to be less marked than under salary-type arrangements."
In several OECD countries, general practitioners (GPs) are employed on salaries for the government.According to OECD, "Salary arrangements allow funders to control primary care costs directly; however, they may lead to under-provision of services (to ease workloads), excessive referrals to secondary providers and lack of attention to the preferences of patients." There has been movement away from this system.
In recent years, providers have been switching from fee-for-service payment models to a value-based care payment system, where they are compensated for providing value to patients. In this system, providers are given incentives to close gaps in care and provide better quality care for patients.
Sound information plays an increasingly critical role in the delivery of modern health care and efficiency of health systems. Health informatics – the intersection of information science, medicine and healthcare – deals with the resources, devices, and methods required to optimize the acquisition and use of information in health and biomedicine. Necessary tools for proper health information coding and management include clinical guidelines, formal medical terminologies, and computers and other information and communication technologies. The kinds of health data processed may include patients' medical records, hospital administration and clinical functions, and human resources information.
The use of health information lies at the root of evidence-based policy and evidence-based management in health care. Increasingly, information and communication technologies are being utilised to improve health systems in developing countries through: the standardisation of health information; computer-aided diagnosis and treatment monitoring; informing population groups on health and treatment.
The management of any health system is typically directed through a set of policies and plans adopted by government, private sector business and other groups in areas such as personal healthcare delivery and financing, pharmaceuticals, health human resources, and public health.
Public health is concerned with threats to the overall health of a community based on population health analysis. The population in question can be as small as a handful of people, or as large as all the inhabitants of several continents (for instance, in the case of a pandemic). Public health is typically divided into epidemiology, biostatistics and health services. Environmental, social, behavioral, and occupational health are also important subfields.
Today, most governments recognize the importance of public health programs in reducing the incidence of disease, disability, the effects of ageing and health inequities, although public health generally receives significantly less government funding compared with medicine. For example, most countries have a vaccination policy, supporting public health programs in providing vaccinations to promote health. Vaccinations are voluntary in some countries and mandatory in some countries. Some governments pay all or part of the costs for vaccines in a national vaccination schedule.
The rapid emergence of many chronic diseases, which require costly long-term care and treatment, is making many health managers and policy makers re-examine their healthcare delivery practices. An important health issue facing the world currently is HIV/AIDS.Another major public health concern is diabetes. In 2006, according to the World Health Organization, at least 171 million people worldwide suffered from diabetes. Its incidence is increasing rapidly, and it is estimated that by the year 2030, this number will double. A controversial aspect of public health is the control of tobacco smoking, linked to cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Antibiotic resistance is another major concern, leading to the reemergence of diseases such as tuberculosis. The World Health Organization, for its World Health Day 2011 campaign, is calling for intensified global commitment to safeguard antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines for future generations.
Since 2000, more and more initiatives have been taken at the international and national levels in order to strengthen national health systems as the core components of the global health system. Having this scope in mind, it is essential to have a clear, and unrestricted, vision of national health systems that might generate further progresses in global health. The elaboration and the selection of performance indicators are indeed both highly dependent on the conceptual framework adopted for the evaluation of the health systems performances.Like most social systems, health systems are complex adaptive systems where change does not necessarily follow rigid management models. In complex systems path dependency, emergent properties and other non-linear patterns are seen, which can lead to the development of inappropriate guidelines for developing responsive health systems.
An increasing number of tools and guidelines are being published by international agencies and development partners to assist health system decision-makers to monitor and assess health systems strengtheningincluding human resources development using standard definitions, indicators and measures. In response to a series of papers published in 2012 by members of the World Health Organization's Task Force on Developing Health Systems Guidance, researchers from the Future Health Systems consortium argue that there is insufficient focus on the 'policy implementation gap'. Recognizing the diversity of stakeholders and complexity of health systems is crucial to ensure that evidence-based guidelines are tested with requisite humility and without a rigid adherence to models dominated by a limited number of disciplines. Healthcare services often implement Quality Improvement Initiatives to overcome this policy implementation gap. Although many deliver improved healthcare a large proportion fail to sustain. Numerous tools and frameworks have been created to respond to this challenge and increase improvement longevity. One tool highlighted the need for these tools to respond to user preferences and settings to optimize impact.
Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) is an emerging multidisciplinary field that challenges 'disciplinary capture' by dominant health research traditions, arguing that these traditions generate premature and inappropriately narrow definitions that impede rather than enhance health systems strengthening.HPSR focuses on low- and middle-income countries and draws on the relativist social science paradigm which recognises that all phenomena are constructed through human behaviour and interpretation. In using this approach, HPSR offers insight into health systems by generating a complex understanding of context in order to enhance health policy learning. HPSR calls for greater involvement of local actors, including policy makers, civil society and researchers, in decisions that are made around funding health policy research and health systems strengthening.
Health systems can vary substantially from country to country, and in the last few years, comparisons have been made on an international basis. The World Health Organization, in its World Health Report 2000 , provided a ranking of health systems around the world according to criteria of the overall level and distribution of health in the populations, and the responsiveness and fair financing of health care services.The goals for health systems, according to the WHO's World Health Report 2000 – Health systems: improving performance (WHO, 2000), are good health, responsiveness to the expectations of the population, and fair financial contribution. There have been several debates around the results of this WHO exercise, and especially based on the country ranking linked to it, insofar as it appeared to depend mostly on the choice of the retained indicators.
Direct comparisons of health statistics across nations are complex. The Commonwealth Fund, in its annual survey, "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall", compares the performance of the health systems in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the United States Its 2007 study found that, although the United States system is the most expensive, it consistently underperforms compared to the other countries.A major difference between the United States and the other countries in the study is that the United States is the only country without universal health care. The OECD also collects comparative statistics, and has published brief country profiles. Health Consumer Powerhouse makes comparisons between both national health care systems in the Euro health consumer index and specific areas of health care such as diabetes or hepatitis.
|Country||Life expectancy||Infant mortality rate||Preventable deaths per 100,000 people in 2007||Physicians per 1000 people||Nurses per 1000 people||Per capita expenditure on health (USD PPP)||Healthcare costs as a percent of GDP||% of government revenue spent on health||% of health costs paid by government|
Physicians and hospital beds per 1000 inhabitants vs Health Care Spending in 2008 for OECD Countries. The data source is http://www.oecd.org.
Health care reform is for the most part governmental policy that affects health care delivery in a given place. Health care reform typically attempts to:
Publicly funded healthcare is a form of health care financing designed to meet the cost of all or most healthcare needs from a publicly managed fund. Usually this is under some form of democratic accountability, the right of access to which are set down in rules applying to the whole population contributing to the fund or receiving benefits from it.
The healthcare industry is an aggregation and integration of sectors within the economic system that provides goods and services to treat patients with curative, preventive, rehabilitative, and palliative care. It includes the generation and commercialization of goods and services lending themselves to maintaining and re-establishing health. The modern healthcare industry is divided into many sectors and depends on the interdisciplinary teams of trained professionals and paraprofessionals to meet health needs of individuals and populations.
Health insurance is an insurance that covers the whole or a part of the risk of a person incurring medical expenses, spreading the risk over a large number of persons. By estimating the overall risk of health care and health system expenses over the risk pool, an insurer can develop a routine finance structure, such as a monthly premium or payroll tax, to provide the money to pay for the health care benefits specified in the insurance agreement. The benefit is administered by a central organization such as a government agency, private business, or not-for-profit entity.
Comparison of the healthcare systems in Canada and the United States is often made by government, public health and public policy analysts. The two countries had similar healthcare systems before Canada changed its system in the 1960s and 1970s. The United States spends much more money on healthcare than Canada, on both a per-capita basis and as a percentage of GDP. In 2006, per-capita spending for health care in Canada was US$3,678; in the U.S., US$6,714. The U.S. spent 15.3% of GDP on healthcare in that year; Canada spent 10.0%. In 2006, 70% of healthcare spending in Canada was financed by government, versus 46% in the United States. Total government spending per capita in the U.S. on healthcare was 23% higher than Canadian government spending, and U.S. government expenditure on healthcare was just under 83% of total Canadian spending though these statistics don't take into account population differences.
Health policy can be defined as the "decisions, plans, and actions that are undertaken to achieve specific healthcare goals within a society". According to the World Health Organization, an explicit health policy can achieve several things: it defines a vision for the future; it outlines priorities and the expected roles of different groups; and it builds consensus and informs people.
Healthcare reform in the United States has a long history. Reforms have often been proposed but have rarely been accomplished. In 2010, landmark reform was passed through two federal statutes enacted in 2010: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), signed March 23, 2010, and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which amended the PPACA and became law on March 30, 2010.
Germany has a universal multi-payer health care system paid for by a combination of statutory health insurance and "Private Krankenversicherung".
Healthcare in Finland consists of a highly decentralized three-level publicly funded healthcare system and a much smaller private sector. Although the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has the highest decision-making authority, the municipalities are responsible for providing healthcare to their residents.
The French health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance. In its 2000 assessment of world health care systems, the World Health Organization found that France provided the "close to best overall health care" in the world. In 2011, France spent 11.6% of GDP on health care, or US$4,086 per capita, a figure much higher than the average spent by countries in Europe but less than in the US. Approximately 77% of health expenditures are covered by government funded agencies.
Spain employs a universal health care system. The system is essentially "free" except for small, often symbolic co-payments in some products and services.
Hungary has a tax-funded universal healthcare system, organized by the state-owned National Health Insurance Fund. According to the OECD 100% of the total population is covered by universal health insurance, which is absolutely free for children, mothers or fathers with baby, students, pensioners, people with low income, handicapped people, priests and other church employees. Health in Hungary can be described with a rapidly increasing life expectancy and a very low infant mortality rate. According to the OECD Hungary spent 7.8% of its GDP on health care in 2012. Total health expenditure was 1,688.7 US$ per capita in 2011, 1,098.3 US$ governmental-fund (65%) and 590.4 US$ private-fund (35%).
Health care in the United States is provided by many distinct organizations. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by private sector businesses. 58% of US community hospitals are non-profit, 21% are government owned, and 21% are for-profit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States spent $9,403 on health care per capita, and 17.1% on health care as percentage of its GDP in 2014. Healthcare coverage is provided through a combination of private health insurance and public health coverage. The United States does not have a universal healthcare program, unlike other advanced industrialized countries.
Joseph P. Newhouse is an American economist and the John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard University, as well as the Director of the Division of Health Policy Research and of the Interfaculty Initiative on Health Policy. At Harvard, he is a member of the four faculties at Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Harvard Medical School in Boston, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge.
The Indian Constitution makes the provision of healthcare in India the responsibility of the state governments, rather than the central federal government. It makes every state responsible for "raising the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties".
The Czech health care system is based on a compulsory insurance model, with fee-for-service care funded by mandatory employment-related insurance plans since 1992. According to the 2016 Euro health consumer index, a comparison of healthcare in Europe, the Czech healthcare is 13th, ranked behind Sweden and two positions ahead of the United Kingdom.
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