One of the most alarming and disturbing issues today is the rampant corruption in healthcare at a global scale. A report by Transparency International has found that corruption is part of doing business in the healthcare sector all over the world and prevents vulnerable people accessing the care or products they need. Corruption is a serious threat to global health outcomes, leading to financial waste and adverse health consequences. Yet, forms of corruption impacting global health are endemic worldwide in public and private sectors, and in developed and resource-poor settings alike. Allegations of misuse of funds and fraud in global health initiatives also threaten future investment.
It seems that our healthcare system is no longer about relieving the suffering of patients. Drug and device makers pay physicians for prescribing their medications and products. Many governments fail to prevent a “black market” in health, where widespread corruption, bribery, “moonlighting” and other illegal practices flourish.
There are numerous reports of fraudulent activities by healthcare providers that misuse funds under government programs in USA such as Medicare and Medicaid. A study in Europe revealed that bribery in medical services is a major challenge. European Countries where patients have the most frequent experiences of paying for privileged treatment are: Slovakia (41%), Slovenia (38%) and Germany, Spain, France and Sweden (all 29%), while the EU average stands at 19%. Its unbelievable as most of these nations are considered first world countries. The worst hit are developing nations, in which surveys report that 80% of individuals have faced health sector corruption, including alarming reports of unnecessary medication, treatments and highly invasive surgeries at the expense of people to collect government medical insurance.
Transform Global Health (TGH) believes that the way to overcome healthcare corruption is to transform the way the healthcare industry works. It is important to not demonize physicians and healthcare workers who put in a lifetime’s effort in developing their knowledge and experience. We need healthcare professionals, and there is in fact a severe deficiency of healthcare professionals across the world. TGH believes that corruption can be reduced by structuring healthcare to encourage positive behavior while penalizing corrupt activities.
Healthcare services should be structured so that physicians earn more and positive behavior is rewarded, thereby reducing the incentive for black-markets, kickbacks from drug and device makers, or other corrupt means of earning money. At the same time, systems need to be improved to catch all occurrences of corruption which should be penalized heavily. In other words, we must remove the need for corrupt practices while at the same time making sure that any corrupt activities are caught and punished heavily.
The Universal Health Information Network (UNHIN), a blockchain based, global health information network that TGH is working on will play a key role in identifying fraud and in incentivizing and rewarding positive behavior. The UNHIN will provide a foundation for the healthcare industry to transform its working to remove corruption from healthcare.
We invite your thoughts, and ideas regarding how we can discourage and remove corruption in healthcare via this forum.