The draft government proposal regarding freedom of choice for social and healthcare services, drawn up by the preparatory group for the social and health care Freedom of Choice Act set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on 14 July 2017, has been submitted to circulate for comments. Silmäasema is strongly committed to the goals of the government’s social, health care and regional reform. The company believes that increased freedom of choice will support the development of cost-efficient and equal eye healthcare services.
The draft bill included in the proposal establishes, among other things, the use of client vouchers to pay for treating cataract and other eye diseases. In the future, client vouchers can be used to pay for non-emergency medical appointments with healthcare professionals, such as regular follow-up appointments for glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. “We are pleased with the proposal for using client vouchers as an instrument for freedom of choice. We also think it is a very good thing for customers and for companies like us that in addition to cataract, also some other care packages for eye disease treatment will be covered by client vouchers. It opens up new markets and brings costs savings for the society, faster access to medical care for the customer and great opportunities for companies,” says CEO of Silmäasema Corporation, Pasi Kohmo.
The proposal further suggests that the counties must provide consultation and appointment services by healthcare professionals other than general medical practitioners as part of the direct-choice services produced at social and health care centres. According to the proposal, consultation and walk-in appointment services should be provided at least in the fields of internal medicine, paediatrics, geriatrics and ophthalmology.
“Particularly from the viewpoint of the customer’s functioning care path, increasing freedom of choice and cost-efficiency, we believe that providing ophthalmology specialist services only at the Sote Centres is not justified. In our view, providing these services based on the existing structure widely across the whole of Finland by optical retail and eye healthcare operators is more efficient and does not add additional costs to the Sote budget,” says Kohmo.
According to Silmäasema, using the existing service structure of the companies in the vision and eye healthcare industry best supports the goals of freedom of choice and cost-efficiency. “Eye diseases are already included in specialised care and thus, public sector responsibility. From the viewpoint of private sector companies, the proposal to move the eye disease consultation and walk-in appointment services to Sote Centres is quite neutral as such, but from the viewpoint of patients and society it’s not the best solution, even though its full impact is still impossible to evaluate,” Kohmo concludes.
Pasi Kohmo, CEO, Silmäasema, +358 50 331 7015, firstname.lastname@example.org
Silmäasema in brief
Silmäasema is a Finnish company, which offers all products and services for optical retail and eye healthcare nationwide. Silmäasema is the largest private eye clinic provider offering eye surgeries and the second largest optical retail chain with 28.4 per cent market share. The Silmäasema chain has 145 stores and 13 eye clinics as well as eight stores in Estonia. The Silmäasema chain employs approximately 1,000 eye healthcare professionals. In 2016, the Silmäasema chain conducted around 210,000 optician's eye examinations, 190,000 ophthalmologist's appointments and over 15,000 cataract and refractive surgeries. Silmäasema's Group net sales were 101.3 million euros in 2016 and adjusted EBITDA was 12.0 million euros.
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