The healthcare policy development process continued
The goal of any healthcare policy is to promote and protect the health of individuals and the community.
The complexity of healthcare policy development
Policymakers should aim to accomplish this goal in a way that is inclusive. Because of this, the process of developing policies in healthcare is complex as it involves legal, political, financial, ethical and social considerations, as well as multiple stakeholders. Similarly, healthcare policy development often reflects choices between competing priorities, as well as the assessment of data. Interest groups, including stakeholders with various priorities in healthcare, select their values and evaluate the data through their own lenses.
Multiple considerations, stakeholders and priorities mean that healthcare policy development encompasses a vast range of issues. This gives rise to questions on whether healthcare policies are developed through rigorous and objective assessment of data or if they’re based on interest groups lobbying policymakers.
Policy development cycle
Easton (1965) and Koh (2006), have pointed out that the policy development process is a cyclical process consisting of issue identification, policy formulation, policy selection, policy advocacy, policy adoption, policy implementation, policy evaluation and policy reformulation, as shown below.
In addition to the cycle illustrated above, Pencheon (2006) has pointed out that the policymaking process encompasses three main parts that are outlined below:
Setting the environment for health policy
This involves the assessment of the institutional structures including governance systems, key stakeholders, decision-makers, the broader society and the political context within which the policy is formulated (R). It’s also important to note that the policymaking process is a continuous and iterative process characterised by diversity, with actors competing with each other.
The use of a sound methodology is important to develop a flawless or technically sound explicit health policy in terms of its evidence base, political context, and socio-economic acceptance and resource requirements. Accordingly, the methodological requirement encompasses the following:
- A need assessment
- An assessment of resources as a situation/ gap analysis
- Prioritisation and quantitative techniques like modelling
- Case study and scenario comparisons
- A micro simulation for impact evaluation
Health policy analysis
This is a multidisciplinary approach to public policy that aims to explain the interaction between institutions, interests and ideas in the policy process. Key components of health policy analysis are illustrated below:
(Adapted from Walt and Gilson 1994)
Now that we’ve considered the policymaking cycle and stages in healthcare policy development, let’s pause to consider your opinion on this process.
Do you think those involved in developing healthcare policies may have competing interests?
In the context of national and global healthcare policy, do stakeholders have any incentives for supporting or not supporting the policy?
Share your thoughts with your fellow learners in the comments area.
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