The DLA Piper report “The COVID-19 pandemic and the pharmaceutical and medical sector in Poland” is based on the feedback from a survey conducted among DLA Piper’s clients and business contacts from the pharmaceutical and medical sector, including producers of medicines, food supplements and medical devices, as well as healthcare service providers. It is the first report that brings together the views of key players in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, describing how they see the current state of affairs on the Polish market and possible future trends, along with their recommendations as to what actions they would like to see taken in the sector. The key findings are summarised in our four briefings, the last part of which discusses other consequences of the pandemic not yet mentioned as well as sector barriers and suggested state actions.
In the last part of the survey respondents were asked open questions about other possible consequences of the pandemic on the healthcare market that were not addressed in the previous parts of the survey, and to assess barriers to the pharmaceutical and medical sector and suggested state actions in response to the pandemic. Here we summarise the most common responses.
Other consequences of the pandemic
In addition to the areas summarised in the previous briefings, respondents identified the following issues as being affected by the pandemic:
- Public health – the predicted impact of the pandemic on public health is increased mortality and increased demand for health services as a result of reduced hospital admissions and diagnoses during the pandemic, especially in the case of chronic diseases and in the field of oncology.
- Availability of healthcare benefits – the respondents predict a lower availability and an increased demand at the same time, as well as increased costs of healthcare benefits.
- Public health awareness – an increased interest and demand for vaccinations in general, not only against COVID-19, is foreseen.
- Infectious diseases – respondents anticipate increased prevention of infectious diseases, and increased interest and demand for vaccinations (again, not only against COVID-19).
- Online procedures – the rise of telemedicine services is expected, as well as dissemination of e-prescriptions, online collaboration platforms, digital marketing, etc.
- Pharmaceutical care – it is anticipated that pharmaceutical care and pharmacies will have an enhanced role (not only in terms of vaccinating).
- Financing of the sector – respondents predict increased funding, especially public funding, of the healthcare sector, as well as increased investment in healthcare infrastructure.
- Medical personnel – increased medical personnel costs in the healthcare sector can be expected in the future, along with reduced availability of specialists and professional burnout.
- Prices – respondents indicated that higher prices can be expected.
The most often indicated barriers to the pharmaceutical and medical sector were the following:
- Lack of strategy – no visible strategy for the development of the healthcare sector.
- Financing – a low level of public funding, also in comparison with other EU countries; underfunded infrastructure.
- Medical workforce – staff shortages at various levels, including specialists, nursing staff, etc., and low salaries.
- Access to healthcare services – insufficient access to healthcare services for patients.
- Functioning of hospitals – lack of “administrative” assistance on wards, doctors working as “scribes” reporting to the National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia - NFZ).
- Overregulation – complicated legal procedures.
- Public focus limited to COVID-19 – organisational and financial limitation of other medical procedures in 2020/2021.
- Reimbursement of pharmaceuticals – a price-only approach by the National Health Fund, lack of a value-based strategy, manufacturers “hitting a brick wall” in reimbursement negotiations to the detriment of patients; insufficient coverage of medication programmes.
- Reimbursement of medical devices – lack of suitable regulations for financing medical devices, long procedures with the National Health Fund.
Finally, respondents were asked for their suggestions with regard to state actions in order to remove the above indicated sector barriers in Poland. The following answers were the most common:
- Developing a clear strategy for the sector to overcome the current crisis and collapse of the system, promptly returning to carrying out procedures not just related to COVID-19, and monitoring post-pandemic medical needs.
- Increasing funding, especially public funding, and tying it to the quality of services.
- Private insurance – introducing competition for the National Health Fund.
- Redefining the relationship between administrative staff and the sector to create
a partnership, rather than simply enforcing regulations and penalising.
- Reforming the education system for medical personnel, facilitating the development of specialists and increasing salaries.
- Abandoning “centralised policies” and decentralising management of the sector.
- Creating a map of health needs to better define the scope of actual health needs of the population.
- Increasing reimbursement of new products and taking clinical innovation into account.
- Introducing uniform legislation on reimbursement of medical devices.
Based on the DLA Piper report “The COVID-19 pandemic and the pharmaceutical and medical sector in Poland”. Here you can find the first, second and the third briefing, which summarise the key findings.
By Andrzej Balicki, Partner, and Jolanta Dabrowicz, Senior Associate, DLA Piper