The barriers to the application of strategic purchasing and the role of health policy- and decision-makers: past, current status, ethical aspects and future challenges


healthcare systems and organizations
contracting and strategic purchasing
healthcare services and provisions
scientific evidence


Healthcare systems are complex, multi-level, highly integrated organizations, comprising of different professional figures, institutions, and resources. Such breadth and complexity reflect the multi-dimensionality of the concept of health, which implies the adoption of a holistic approach. Health, rather than merely being the absence of disorders or infirmity, is a highly dynamic state, which represents the abilities of an individual to cope with adverse social, physical and emotional/psychological events and conditions, continuously adapting to them. Ensuring an adequate health state is one of the most important concerns, and the healthcare systems are called to renew themselves in order to meet with the new challenges and health needs. Throughout the last decades, due to demographic shifts and transitions, epidemiological and societal changes, technological achievements and scientific advancements, healthcare systems have undergone an extensive series of reform plans. Therefore, health policy- and decision-makers have made efforts to develop and implement initiatives for preserving the quality of the healthcare provisions. Strategic purchasing is an approach of purchasing that takes into account several health-related issues such as a proper, comprehensive planning of service delivery, the design and selection of the best packages of services and provisions, the appropriate selection of providers and the allocation of economical and financial incentives to provide better services and to motivate managers to adopt appropriate policies to implement strategic purchasing. Here, we intend to consider the various dimensions and aspects that can be effective in strategic purchasing, as well as the main barriers and obstacles that hinder its full implementation.


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