Joanna Szyman for PMR: Pandemic accelerates consolidation of the psychiatric care market in Poland

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Ten post jest także dostępny w języku: polski

The topic of mental health is not easy. Stereotypes, prejudices and low public awareness of mental illness, as well as stigmatisation, discrimination and exclusion of people in need of help or treatment for mental health problems are very common. However, as Joanna Szyman emphasises, before the crisis in Poland, about 1.6 million people were treated psychiatrically.

Inability of the public psychiatric care system

Apart from cardiology and oncology, psychiatry is one of the priority areas of health care, the condition of which will be particularly important during the period of recovery from the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The main problems which psychiatric care in Poland has faced so far are too low a level of funding, a shortage of staff, a lack of coordination of activities, as well as large restrictions and territorial inequalities in access to psychiatric care services. These problems were indicated, for example, by the control of NIK. What is more, even before the pandemic, it was necessary to wait as long as three to four months for a visit to a mental health clinic within the framework of the National Health Fund. It is worth noting that in Poland only about 4,300 psychiatrists work in this profession. There are even fewer in the field of child psychiatry – only 455 specialists.

– An excellent example of the response to the challenges facing the system is the project prepared by the Allenort Group, covering the network of Therapy Clinics with the first private psychiatric hospital in Poland. The clinics offer high quality coordinated psychiatric care and psychotherapy, both for adults and children. The development of the Allenort Therapy Clinic network has initiated the process of consolidating the private psychiatric care market with a private copy. We estimate that these processes will continue in the coming months and years and will be driven by growing health needs in the field of psychiatry, the relatively high degree of fragmentation of the sector and extremely limited access to staff in the sector. Parallel to the consolidation processes, organic projects will develop, including new clinics and technology solutions – says Joanna Szyman, Vice President of Upper Finance.

Psychiatry in hospital treatment

According to PMR estimates, there are 22,947 beds in hospital psychiatric care (without one-day psychiatry and addiction treatment centres) in Poland and it is a sector dominated by public entities – 87% of the beds are located within such units, another in companies with State Treasury or local government units, and only 3% are operated by private operators. The private sector is increasingly interested in the field of psychiatry. The presence of the private sector is increasingly evident in day-to-day hospital and outpatient care as well as in the field of addiction treatment.

The need for social isolation triggered by the pandemic and the forthcoming economic crisis are increasing the need for remote treatment. In the basket of benefits reimbursed by the National Health Fund since March 2020, we have teleports: medical, psychological, psychotherapy sessions and an addiction treatment instructor. Now new players are entering the game – technology companies. There are currently not many technologies supporting specifically psychiatry. There are definitely more tools for psychologists and psychotherapists, e.g. CBT Thought Diary or the Polish Therapify application – stresses Joanna Szyman.

More about hospital psychiatric care can be found in the PMR report: “Public and non-public hospital market in Poland 2020. Investment plans and comparative analysis by voivodship“.

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