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“Although tariff systems have not yet been adapted, hospitals should already start focusing on making outpatient services available”

The Biel Hospital Center is taking a more strategic approach to its outpatient services. In the future, more than half of all revenue is expected to be generated by services that are not inpatient services. In this interview, Kristian Schneider, CEO of the Biel Hospital Center, shares his insights into the shift from inpatient to outpatient care and the challenges and opportunities it presents – including for patients.


Kristian Schneider-1


Mr Schneider, how has the shift from inpatient to outpatient care affected the patient experience at the Biel Hospital Center?

The shift has had a noticeable impact on our patients’ experience. As part of our development into a healthcare cluster located at the railway station, we are able to offer many benefits for outpatient treatment. This includes easier accessibility, clear and efficient processes – especially without any interference from the inpatient care sector. The close proximity also allows for excellent collaboration between the various medical disciplines. And last but not least, our patients enjoy new, modern treatment rooms.


What challenges does the strategic realignment present, and how do you plan to deal with them?

The problem generally lies in the financing of outpatient services. Although we are able to cover our operating costs in most areas, we face the challenge of generating depreciation due to the high level of investment in infrastructure. We would need a better tariff, which is difficult to negotiate at the moment.


How will you be able to cover your outpatient costs when the tariffs are much lower than for inpatient care?

From a purely economic point of view, by shifting former inpatient services to the outpatient sector, we are making a contribution to cost containment, but there is nothing left over for us. This means that we are not yet able to fully cover our costs. By separating the outpatient and inpatient processes, we prevent the different “production processes” from intermingling and negatively influencing each other. As in all industries, we can only become more efficient by creating the right conditions to fulfil our mission of maximizing the benefits of highly specialized expertise for our patients. This requires clear and simple processes.


How do you deal with the logistics of having multiple locations?

Working at several locations is a major challenge for our central logistics. With the expansion of our range of services at Bienne railway station, we have developed specific delivery processes for each specialist outpatient department to keep warehousing and tied-up capital at the decentralized locations as cost-effective as possible. As we continue to develop our entire organization, including the construction of the new hospital on a greenfield site, we are faced with fundamental questions regarding procurement, warehousing and logistics. We have to decide which tasks we want to carry out internally and where we want to rely on external partners who specialize in these areas.


To what extent will digitization improve or influence the outpatient sector?

Like everyone else, we want to see easy data exchange between service providers to enable faster and more targeted care, diagnosis and treatment. Telemedicine will be a major aspect of this, especially given the skills shortage, which will make it even more important. It is essential that both patients and professionals have immediate and simultaneous access to health data. Digitization will also continue to develop at a rapid pace and will include the use of artificial intelligence in the decision-making process. However, the exact impact on our daily lives remains unclear and is sometimes difficult to imagine.

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