Efficiency in healthcare could save up to 5% of GDP, says OECD report


IRELAND COULD save up to 5 per cent of future Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by increasing efficiency in the healthcare system, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The potential savings for Ireland are the highest out of the countries examined in the report.

Greece and the United Kingdom could save nearly 4 per cent of GDP.

The figures were based on an OECD projection of GDP in 2017.

The report states that life expectancy could be increased by up to two years across the OECD if healthcare practices could come into line with those in better performing countries.

This could be achieved without an increase in spending, according to the report.

Conversely, a 10 per cent increase in spending would result in an increased life expectancy of only three to four months.

OECD secretary general Angel Gurria said: “Healthcare is now one of the largest government spending items, representing on average 15 per cent of government spending across the OECD, and costs are still rising.

“The economic and financial crisis has weighed heavily on public finances, reinforcing the need to improve healthcare efficiency.”

The report, which investigates the links between policy choices and health system efficiency, is based on data gathered from 29 OECD countries.

The countries were subdivided into six different groups based on the nature of their healthcare provision systems.

Ireland was classified as a country with mostly public provision and insurance, with ample choice of providers and strict budget control.

Other countries in this group included Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Countries with the most efficient spending on health included Australia, Japan, Korea and Switzerland.