Service voucher brings efficiency, quality and cost benefits to Kangasala
Freedom of choice in specialized healthcare services has been piloted for a long time in Tampere's surrounding municipalities. The service voucher scheme, introduced in 2013, has strengthened cooperation and development between municipalities, increased customer satisfaction and freedom of choice, and pushed service providers to improve their operations.
In Kangasala, service vouchers for specialized health care were introduced already in 2011. Good results have encouraged the municipality to expand the provision of specialized healthcare vouchers: the range of service vouchers offered is now one of the largest in the country. Currently, the municipality offers a hundred different service vouchers, about half of which are allocated to visits to specialist clinics and half to various surgical operations.
"The cost savings are significant, as we get 2 to 3 operations for the price of one. A successful voucher scheme is based on a functioning market and finding the right partners. Together with other municipalities in the surrounding area, we have taken an open-minded approach to experimenting with this model and requesting proposals from service providers," says Toni Haapala, CFO of the City of Kangasala's Social and Health Services.
The procurement pool of municipalities around Tampere, which includes Kangasala, procures services from six different private-sector service providers in addition to the public-sector hospital district in accordance with jointly defined criteria. One of these is Terveystalo, Finland's largest healthcare service company in terms of the service network.
"This is a great example of how municipalities and service providers have worked together to build services and products. Kangasala and other municipalities around Tampere issue thousands of service vouchers every year, so the system has to be efficient and straightforward. I believe that this will also be the model for the future in the rest of Finland," says Toni Siiskonen, Account Manager at Terveystalo.
The residents of Kangasala use the Terveystalo service voucher for the most common specialized healthcare services, such as the services of an internist, surgeon, orthopedist, gynecologist or pediatrician. In addition, the service voucher is used for various tests and minor procedures, as well as short-stay surgeries.
Service voucher enables freedom of choice
Service vouchers allow customers to choose the most suitable specialist clinic. In addition to the six partners, the customer can always choose the public sector as their service provider, in accordance with the Service Voucher Act.
"We have received positive feedback on this. According to our research, customers make their choices especially based on convenient location and quick access to treatment, but they also value a familiar doctor," says Haapala.
The price lists of service providers are available on the municipality's website, so customers can easily compare prices. The prices of service vouchers are such that the customer pays the same amount whether they choose a service from the public sector or the cheapest private-sector provider.
"This means that the customer's freedom of choice increases by 100%. However, prices do not differ greatly from those of other providers. Competitive advantage is sought through other factors such as quality, accessibility and customer experience. This benefits municipalities, customers and service providers alike," says Haapala.