MORE TRANSPARENT POLICY USING CONSISTENT FACTS AND FIGURES
On Wednesday, 18 May 2016, eight collaborating organisations coordinated by RIVM presented the first version of the State of Public Health and Healthcare (in Dutch: de Staat van Volksgezondheid en Zorg, abbreviated to Staat VenZ). With the State of Public Health and Healthcare, the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport provides consistent, transparent facts and figures that are relevant to the Ministry's policies.
The State of Public Health and Healthcare provides a digital overview of facts and figures, which can be found at www.staatvenz.nl, as well as various reports based on those figures. The State of Public Health and Healthcare is also available as an app for Apple and Android devices.
The State of Public Health and Healthcare was developed to provide a clear, transparent, and reliable source of information, which allows the Ministry to account for its policies in the political arena and to the public. Or, as Minister Schippers put it when she presented the State of Public Health and Healthcare to the House of Representatives: “Frequently, multiple statistics can be found for the same issue. Ask three organisations for facts and figures about a subject and chances are high that you will get three different answers. That is especially confusing in political debate, and should therefore be avoided.”
The overview includes statistics provided by a consortium of eight parties who have joined forces under RIVM coordination. Together, they provide data on over 200 subjects relating to public health, welfare, and sport.
The consortium consists of Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL), the Netherlands Youth Institute (NJi), the Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), the Trimbos Institute, and the National Health Care Institute (ZIN).
“The consistent statistics which we have published in the State of Public Health and Healthcare have already been thoroughly discussed with the various consortium parties beforehand, which guarantees that the right facts and figures are used and that terms and definitions are in harmony. We now know how these numbers have been established and we can explain the process,” explains project leader Mariska van Blankers. “We have noticed that it is very important for opinion leaders and decision-makers to have the same consistent facts and figures about healthcare. That saves considerable time and effort in discussing calculation methods,” confirms Edwin Stuivenwold, who leads the Market Scans and Monitors project at consortium partner NZa. “We therefore often refer to the State of Public Health and Healthcare in the scans and monitors in Standvandezorgmarkten.nl, our annual overview of developments in healthcare.”
The result of this collaboration is a clear and transparent website featuring facts and figures, trends and breakdowns by factors like gender or age, all presented in clear infographics. It also provides references to the primary sources of the information. The information will be made available as open data. In-depth reports on specific themes will also be published periodically. For instance, a report entitled ‘A coherent impression of cancer - illness, care, people and society’ was published at the end of November 2016.
Cordula Wagner, director of consortium partner NIVEL, looks back on a successful collaboration: “All the partners had to work very hard to have the first publication ready in time. RIVM has done an excellent job of coordinating, and as investigators from different consortium partners, we have grown to know each other better over time, which enabled us to continue adding new figures in mutual consultation. In my opinion, the State of Public Health and Healthcare is the ultimate source for reliable facts and figures about healthcare.”
The figures presented on www.staatvenz.nl and in the app are constantly updated behind the scenes; as soon as consensus is reached regarding missing data on subjects relating to public health, welfare and sport, that information is added. This means that the State of Public Health and Healthcare plays a key role as a source of information and accountability, a role that will continue to grow in coming years.