Public-Private Partnerships: Public Health
By Valerie Martinelli, MPA
A couple of months of ago I began writing about Public-Private Partnerships, also known as 3Ps, and the diversity of their utilization within various projects and programs. 3Ps may be most well-known to some for their application in infrastructure projects. However, 3Ps also exist within public health projects. Utilization of 3Ps within public health projects and programs has undoubtedly grown in recent years. Such collaborations are critical to improving the health of the public- locally, nationally, and internationally.
There has been an accelerated development of interest and employment of 3P healthcare models within the last few years, including those of various income levels and regions. 3Ps are a type of a long-term contract between a government agency and a private entity in which the public sector and the private sector jointly invest in the provision of public services. The private sector undertakes significant financial, technical, and operational risks and is deemed responsible for any delineated outcomes of the 3P. These partnerships present governments with alternative techniques of financing and service delivery.
Role of Private Sector in Public Health 3Ps
According to the World Economic Forum, there are various reasons for a private sector organization to become involved, such as philanthropy or a commitment to the development of public health. There are also business reasons such as increasing market access or retaining a healthy workforce. The private sector can provide critical expertise, such as program management, research, and development, or supply chain management. There are numerous advantages to 3Ps within public health as well. 3Ps enable organizations to meet public necessities, strengthen their brand, and infiltrate new markets, public health strategies and policies can be advanced, and health education and conditions can be improved internationally. In addition, 3Ps identify new and improved methods of operating, cultivate trust, and improve collaboration between sectors to leverage resources and relationships.
Why a 3P within the Public Health Sector?
New public management discussions had an impact on public health policy debates in developed and progressing countries. Services normally delivered by the public sector can be outsourced to the private sector because the private sector is not under any governmental control and it can function according to a differing set of objectives and norms. Private sector providers can select which services to offer, determine their own levels of quality, mix of inputs and costs. There are two reasons why outsourcing improves the delivery of healthcare services. The first is economic, which discusses the substitution of direct, hierarchal management structure by contractual relationships between purchasers and providers will enhance the transparency of prices, quantity and quality in addition to competition, which will lead to a gain within efficiency. The second reason is political. This specific reason considers the context of welfare systems reform internationally, transfer of services from the national to the local level is oftentimes recommended in combination with an enriched participation of the population in establishing and implementing the services. A component of this inclusive strategy is outsourcing.
3Ps and Public Health Crises
Public-Private Partnerships are a critical tool within public health crises. 3Ps require the sharing of resources, knowledge, and expertise. Through this collaboration, it eases the ability to share the necessary resources and knowledge to tackle a global health crisis. In addition, a 3P also allows for additional funding and financial resources, which can be necessary for access to medicines, treatments, or to accommodate an ill population. It is crucial to have transparency built into any type of model, however, within a global health crisis, transparency is extremely critical for governments, citizens, and all stakeholders to maintain a proper understanding of the crisis, and how the 3P is managing it. In addition, a 3P facilitates the ability to share the risks within a crisis as well as the potential rewards.
NIH 3P Program
The National Institutes of Health facilitates collaborations that may improve public health through biomedical research. 3Ps include collaboration within a wide range of organizations, such as patient advocacy groups, professional societies, charitable foundations, and academia. NIH 3Ps are science-based with a focus to improve public health.
PPP collaborations facilitate public health projects, which can improve health policy objectives and principles.