Healthcare Procurement

In many countries, healthcare spending is on the rise and projections of spend seem to indicate that current healthcare systems are unsustainable in the long run. Policymakers in various countries are looking for ways to make high quality and accessible health care services available to their citizens against affordable public and private costs.

Innovativeness and efficiency are generally seen as two success factors for affordable, high quality care. The healthcare system needs to designed in such a way that both innovation and efficiency are incentivized. Some countries, like the Netherlands and the United States, have chosen to implement a system of regulated competition, in which healthcare purchasing is separated from healthcare provision. The idea is that healthcare providers compete to deliver healthcare services to the people that are represented by the healthcare purchasers (e.g., insurance companies or employers). Healthcare providers compete on a combination of quality and price, and are incentivized to provide high quality care at a competitive price. This should stimulate innovation and efficiency.

When healthcare purchasers also compete for individuals to sign up for their plans, they have an incentive to purchase healthcare that has the quality to satisfy their members, at the lowest possible total cost (including costs stemming from low quality care, such as re-admittance costs or service failure recovery costs).

Professional purchasing of care is a key element for such a system of regulated competition to function well. Professionalism in healthcare procurement includes thoughtful consideration of issues such as:

  • Which sourcing strategy to apply in which context?
  • How to specify the quality and quantity of care that I need to contract?
  • Which non-price criteria to include in supplier selection and how to measure these?
  • If and how to use performance-based contracts?
  • What kind of supplier relationship to strive for in which context to achieve the best results?

We believe that in order to understand what professional purchasing of healthcare is, state-of-the-art knowledge in the area of purchasing management needs to be integrated with state-of-the-art knowledge in the area of healthcare management. It is our experience that thus far, these fields of research have existed and developed separate from each other, foregoing opportunities to cross-pollinate and combine the best of both worlds.

These pages will explain what research we carry out in the area of healthcare procurement. Please get in touch if you see opportunities to collaborate in this area of research, be it academic research, or applied research projects.