Guest Article: Investing in the future of healthcare
Having access to the latest healthcare equipment and technology plays a crucial part in providing effective patient care. However, many hospitals can struggle to afford this equipment and technology and such options can seem out of reach for some healthcare providers.
In this article, Penny Pinnock, Sales Manager – Healthcare & Public Sector for Siemens Financial Services (SFS) in the UK, examines how asset finance can support and enhance the research and treatment carried out by University NHS Trust Hospitals.
According to the NHS Confederation, the contribution of medical research undertaken by University Teaching Hospitals and campuses to the NHS is significant and often overlooked. Alongside other healthcare institutions, University Hospital Trusts are responsible for delivering high-quality care, clinical research and, crucially, training to the health professionals of the future.
While University Hospital Trusts make up almost 20 percent of England’s 233 NHS Trusts, they also account for over 37 percent of NHS Trust turnover, according to Confederation figures.
Access to the latest healthcare equipment and technology is an essential part of providing effective patient care and has the potential to meaningfully impact areas such as diagnostic treatment and research processes. For instance, at Croydon University Hospital, cardiac lists increased to the point that they constituted 26 percent of the hospital’s daily scanning capacity. In response to the rising demand for cardiac computed tomography (CT), the hospital chose to upgrade its scanner, which also provided enhanced imaging capabilities for other services.
Alongside these Trusts, University campuses also require access to new generation equipment and technology to support their research. The Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre boasts four magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) laboratories with a highly-advanced combination of neuroimaging equipment. Each MRI contributes to clinical research and is also used for areas such as training, treatment and pharmaceutical trials. Equipment such as this supports Cardiff’s facilities and is fundamental to the process of researching the monitoring and detection of diseases in the human body.
However, hospitals, including University Hospital Trusts, are struggling to afford the latest healthcare equipment and technology due to the most protracted period of low funding growth in NHS history.
For example, one University NHS Hospital Trust in the South Midlands reported a loss of over £9 million in 2017-18 and in its annual report noted that “capital investment is likely to be restricted as a result”. Recent research also indicates that hospital staff in many trusts around the country are having to use out-of-date equipment to treat patients and, as a result, the quality and safety of care may be impacted.
Keeping pace with technological advancements requires considerable capital expenditure and therefore acquiring the latest healthcare technology may seem out of reach for many healthcare providers.
As a result, specialist technology finance solutions such as transition finance, technology upgrade and pay-for-outcomes options are gaining increasing acceptance as a means of enabling cost-effective investments in new technologies. Such financing solutions spread the cost of the technology over an agreed financing period. Put simply, finance payments are arranged to align with the expected benefits that result from the use of the technology, such as improved operational efficiency. By removing the need for a large initial outlay, finance arrangements like these can help improve cash flow and working capital. Additionally, they have the potential to incorporate other costs such as installation, as well as introducing the flexibility of future affordable technology upgrades, in line with technology developments.
Healthcare financiers who have an in-depth understanding of healthcare technology and its applications can provide these tailored financing packages. Siemens Financial Services (SFS), for example, provides cost effective financing solutions for a wide variety of medical equipment and technology, enabling healthcare organisations to acquire the solutions they need without having to commit precious capital budgets.
The collaborative work between SFS and Siemens Healthineers provides perhaps the best illustration of the sheer range of integrated financing solutions available from specialist providers in today’s marketplace. This range of solutions includes flexible leasing arrangements enabling the acquisition of particular equipment, through to enterprise-wide arrangements where Siemens Healthineers provides data driven consultancy to drive sustainable improvement, enabling technology, training, maintenance and support, technical staff (where required), even facility design and associated building works – all wrapped up into a single, transparent annual charge. Essentially, this is a solutions-based approach, where each individual healthcare organisation’s precise circumstances – both technological and financial – are taken into account to create tailored ‘value partnerships’. This approach reflects the developing trend in healthcare towards outcomes-based medicine, expanding access to precision medicine, transforming care delivery and improving patient experiences, all enabled through digitalised healthcare technology.
Having access to the latest equipment and technology is clearly essential to patient care but, in terms of clinical research, it has the potential to greatly influence the future of healthcare knowledge and its advancement. By choosing to work with a specialist provider of technology finance for the installation or upgrade of their diagnostic imaging technology, University Hospital Trusts are taking important steps to providing the healthcare innovations of tomorrow.