The drive for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) gained momentum when the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2012 endorsing UHC and urging governments to provide access to affordable health care. There is also strong support for making universal coverage of health care a priority in the post-2015 development agenda that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals.
But if this movement is to achieve its aims, it is crucial to consider not only financial risk protection and wider access to services, but also to increase the value of health care by embracing innovative ways of improving health outcomes while reducing expenditures. The 2010 World Health Report, which made the case for UHC, estimated that 20-40% of all health care spending is currently wasted. And waste in health care is often associated with harm to patients. The commitment to UHC must go hand in hand with a commensurate commitment to ensure availability, acceptability, affordability, and good quality in health services. Patients and communities have a right to expect nothing less.
Applying the findings of delivery science to improve health care implementation will serve both equity and efficiency, as well as reducing waste (unnecessary or unwanted procedures) and harm to patients and populations. This transformation is not just a matter of boosting supply, but of better understanding and aligning demand and delivery so that patients and populations everywhere can progressively access the care they need, and therefore achieve the highest attainable standard of health to which they have a right. Achieving high-value care for all necessitates engaging people and patients individually and collectively as co-creators of value. It involves structuring health care delivery systems to elicit and respond to patients' needs and informed preferences, and better informing investment and capacity planning through measurement of the needs and wants of those who receive care. It also involves the design and implementation of innovative delivery models that are based on transparency and improving access to health information, as well as on the monitoring of outcomes and performance and effective mechanisms for accountability. These are core principles of both the science of delivery and a rights-based approach to health care.
Salzburg Global's sixth session in our health and health care program builds upon the conceptual and practical outcomes of this series to date, notably the sessions on Innovating for Value in Health Care Delivery and on Realizing the Right To Health. It is designed to engage country teams around the world in cross-border learning, and in sharing experience and understanding of how, as we strive for UHC, we can achieve high-value health care at scale, taking into account the demographic, organizational, and financial challenges on the horizon.
This session will explore how insights derived from health care delivery science, and the practical implementation of models that more fully engage service users, can inform and drive the expansion and improvement of health care systems as we move towards UHC. This requires transparency of information, clear responsibilities and accountability and the measurement of results. We will examine the systems changes needed to support innovative and value-based health care delivery. We will also ask what models, methods and metrics are needed to meaningfully involve patients and communities and to ensure that an accurate assessment of their needs and wants informs what capacity is required as health coverage expands.