Procurement Guide for the Health Sector

Posted May 28, 2020

If someone wants to enter the market in the healthcare sector, it is important to understand what public procurement processes are in force in that area. In this article, we have summarized what opportunities exist in Europe in such a regard.

There are five main relevant principles in the European Union for the healthcare sector:

- non-discrimination,

- equal treatment,

 - transparency,

- proportionality and

- mutual recognition.

This is regulated by Framework Directive 2014/24 / EU since 2016.

Transparency and low level of corruption are very important in this sector, and this is particularly common feature in the Nordic countries. This makes a the whole process transparent, but this also means that the decision-making process also becomes longer with involvement of further/more actors.

In case of Denmark, for example, the five Danish Regions have competences in operating public and psychiatric hospitals, prenatal centres and special institutions focusing on health services to be provided for the disabled. In addition to that, there are numerous health care or rehabilitation services available at the Danish municipalities, too. Examples for this latter are disease prevention and health promotion centres, dental care for children, or the local rehabilitation units.

Most of the regional procurements take a form of tender framework contracts, and these are usually centralized. On the contrary, smaller purchases can also be made directly by hospitals or health units. It is important that to note that there is close cooperation between the Danish regions, therefore the whole healthcare system operates in a coordinated way. This could be well witnessed in terms of how ambulance helicopters are operated or in the provision of the hearing aids, for example.

In contrast to regional procurements, most urban/settlement procurements are not tender-based. Usually, the municipalities cooperate with each other and with also work together with the Danish State. As a result of this, very large contracts are implemented with the involvement of many participants. These contracts combine both the obligatory and the voluntary agreements.

In case a tender is issued in a particular healthcare field, in most cases open, restricted or negotiated procedures are in use. If a previously used (i.e. not new) product is purchased, it is managed through a dynamic purchase system. In addition, if healthcare organisation intend to introduce a new, innovative product or service, it can be done within the framework of an innovation partnership. The selection process will determine whether the tenderers are qualified to perform the contract on the basis of the given criteria or not. In this particular case, the criteria is only relevant to assess the eligibility of a potential tenderer company such as whether its technical skills or company profile fits into the project. The final decision on the side of the healthcare organisation determines which of the bidders meets the specified criteria in the best possible way (at a preferably lowest price, at a preferably highest quality).

It is obligatory for companies and public entities to disclose the procurements on different platforms, depending on the nature of the procurement and being subject of who the involved stakeholders are.

To sum up the lessons learnt from the Danish case, the above described procurement procedures apply throughout the EU, being supplemented where it is relevant with the local particularities. As a consequence, before entering the healthcare market, it is definitely worth knowing the requirements of the given country in the best possible detail.

The Medtech4 Europe project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the State of Hungary.