Update 4 February 2020

Winter is refusing to come here to the Netherlands. Temperatures are refusing to go below 10 degrees, but it is cold and windy. I hope that you are all either enjoying a real winter or having nice weather. In this update we cover:

  • Clinic specializing in breast cancer opens second location. Success after rocky start?
  • Another hospital merger is stopped. Is the transformation of the hospital sector moving into a new phase?
  • Healthcare insurance companies to be given more flexibility. Will this be good for innovation?

Clinic specializing in breast cancer opens second location

The Alexander Monro hospital is a private clinic focused exclusively on helping patients with breast cancer. As explained in our snapshot the hospital provides high-quality innovative care but had a difficult start and almost went bankrupt in 2015.

Until now Alexander Monro has operated out of one location in Bilthoven (middle part of the Netherlands). It appears that the clinic is currently doing well as it is opening a second location in the southern part of the Netherlands. The new site is co-located with the St. Jans hospital and will be able to treat 3.000 new patients each year.

This is an interesting example of cooperation between a specialized private clinic and a relatively small general hospital. The largest health insurance company in the region is very positive to the new venture as it sees the value of specialized healthcare that is provided in cooperation with regional players.

Another hospital merger stopped

In the previous update we talked about the uncertain future facing the Langeland hospital in Zoetemeer after a planned merger with two other hospitals was stopped. Last week another merger between two hospitals was also called off. The Laurentius Hospital in Roermond and the VieCuri Hospital in Venlo (neighboring cities in the southern part of the country) have been discussing a potential merger since 2014.

Last week the CEO of Laurentius called off the merger claiming that the ongoing move towards more regional cooperation between different types of organizations makes a merger focusing on higher volumes and economies of scale less interesting.

The hospital sector in the Netherlands is changing and will need to continue changing in the next few years. The number of general hospitals will decline, and the role of the remaining hospitals will change. It is interesting to see that scale and volume are no longer seen as the best answer for positioning a hospital for the coming change.

Healthcare insurance companies given more flexibility

The Netherlands has a complicated legislative system for healthcare and social care where financing based on one set of laws cannot be used outside the sometime narrow limitations of the individual law. This often leads to unfortunate situations where activities or services that will lower the need for (more expensive) long-term care do not get financed.

The Minister of Health has recently announced that he will give the Care Offices (responsible for the financing of long-term care) more flexibility in financing activities / services that are not, strictly speaking, long-term care but that will reduce the (future) need for long-term care. The Care Office will need to prove that the actions it wishes to finance will have a positive business case and that there is proof of it reducing the need for long-term care. In addition, other parties (primarily municipalities) must also participate in the financing.

While it is still unclear exactly how and when this change will be implemented, this is good news for the sector and will certainly room for new and innovative players to emerge.