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The Latvian National Health Service

introduction 

This work’s theme is conditioned by the operating direct administrative institution subordinate to Ministry of Health - the National Health Service (NHS), that was created on 1st November 2011. NHS took over the functions formerly carried out by The Centre of Health Economics and Health Payment Center.

The aim of NHS is to implement State policy for availability of health care services; administrate the State budgetary funds prescribed for health care; implement State policy in the planning of health care services; ensure rational and the most effective use of State budget; implement the e-Health program according to the policy decided by the State; collect and analyze data of society’s health.[1] NHS also makes contracts, pays for rendered services, draws up the list of compensable medicine, confirms directives and medicinal technologies, and maintains e-Health program projects. With the National Health Service formation, a Medical Risk Fund will be created as well..[2]

In order to effectively start talking about public relations’ importance nowadays, the work’s author offers a quick overview at the public relations’ characterization in general.

 „Nowadays, society becomes more and more dependent on communication with each other, so there appears the necessity for more and more complicated social, political, and economical interconnection.” (Katlips, Senters, Brūms, 2002, 22) „The work of public relations creates or controls changes.” (Grīns, 2008, 20) By quoting this, the author expresses the view that the main organizational function of public relations is to furnish mutually-beneficial contacts between organization and a part of society that’s answerable for this organization’s existence. The main highs and lows are dependent of those certain connections. Besides, the main aim of public relations is based on the society that’s surrounding them.

1. NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE WORK ORGANIZATION AND STRUCTURE

 National Health Service (NHS) is the operating direct administrative institution subordinate to Ministry of Health. Its aim is to implement State policy for availability of health care services; administrate the State budgetary funds prescribed for health care; implement State policy in the planning of health care services; ensure rational and the most effective use of State budget; implement the e-Health program according to the policy decided by the State; collect and analyze data of society’s health.

The National Health Service’s organization of work is managed by director Maris Taube. He is a civil servant who decrees the Service’s managerial structure (the Service’s organogram is in the first application). There are five territorial structural units in the Service – Riga, Zemgale, Latgale, Vidzeme, and Kurzeme. Public relations office conforms to the director directly.

The main purposes of the National Health Service are to make contracts of State-paid healthcare service rendering; make selection of providers of State-paid services; establish target groups of the organized by-State screening of cancer disease; develop and apply information systems of e-Health; provide e-Service to medical institutions and citizens; organize and coordinate data transfer between information systems of medical institutions; generalize and estimate reports and recommendations of specialists of State institutions, professional organizations and healthcare facilities about           implementation of medicinal technologies and development of healthcare services, etc.[3]

 The public relations office has to define its target audience and work with it. As far as it’s a part of the National Health Service, its target audience is the whole population of Latvia. It is very wide and hard-hitting, since within the segmentation process, delivery of information has to be even to all people in the country. In this subparagraph it’s courageous to mention the Service’s public relations work with clients or certain target audience. It’s the only way to learn if the work is resultative; respectively, if the messages are heard and understood. It’s important, since the whole public relations work is based on communication (that is, informating society). Mostly, working days of public relations specialists consist of sending e-mails and answering actual questions. Also, they’re often full with answering to questions of media (mostly, about healthcare services that are State-paid), article writing, and renewing the Service’s webpage. With an eye to successful work flowing, the Service organizes internal meetings and presentations (made by NHS and other organizations), where information is not only given in the whole, but also explained in an eye-to-eye communication.

Organization of public relations (inner and outer services) spreading of information that’s connected with the Service’s work could be considered as the main feature of inner service. For example, writing different informative press releases and answering to journalists’ and citizens’ questions. Public relations specialists make different advisory messages for both material and internal usage of the Service. For instance, information about meetings and presentations that are connected with reaching the target audience is spread by them. Of course, the need of informing medical institutions about important questions in healthcare service branch is not to be forgotten. Every year, the Service makes contracts with family doctors and healthcare facilities that provide State-paid health services. More than that, every year the register of compensable medicine is drawn up, and contracts for such medicine selling in drug-stores are made. At this moment, e-Health information system is being developed and put into service. There, data transfer between information systems of medical institutions is established. As outer service, technical service could be mentioned. It is responsible for booklet and visit card making, their printing, as well as technical maintenance of necessary additional working tools. Furthermore, inner service of public relations writes magazine about news of the Service, prints and distributes it. The author of the work can also mention such things to an outer service: consulting citizens about health services and exchange of information between international institutions that are connected with healthcare and work of the Service. 

Budget and work planning of public relations officeNHS public relations office specialists' work planning depends on posts that they hold. At the start of each month, work tasks which are confirmed by the director are filled up and alloted. NHS gets part of the budget for health services every year, which is split by Latvian Ministry of Health. Public relations office doesn’t receive any money directly from Ministry of Health, but it receives a part of the National Health Service’s alloted budget.

1.2. Public relations communication of health care institutions

A public relations expert in any organization is a person who is responsible for maintenance of communication with   external target groups and establishing reputation of the organization. The same specialists work in the National Health Service – they always keep their fingers on the pulse of the Service’s reputation. „Dynamic and effective public relations in State management are conclusive, since it has to communicate with all the different groups of society.” (Black, 1995, 75) In a manner of speaking, such a specialist maintains a contact between the organization and another part of society; in case of healthcare institutions – with patients. A specialist of public relations every day communicates with mass media workers and society, as well as takes care of rotation of information and corporate intercommunication strengthening. „If information is sent in a certain direction, society’s consciousness takes it  and forms an opinion based on the information given” (Apals, Catlaks, Ikstens u.c., 1999, 168) Healthcare institutions in Latvia don’t have to worry about ways to attract patients, since there are not much places where to have healthcare procedures. Especially there isn’t much choice, if a patient wants to use State-paid services. „There are half-truths about healthcare that are troubling society’s minds, like financing terms, normative documents, patient rights and duties, doctor profession. Many patients still believe that healthcare in our country is free of charge and someone else is responsible in their place. (Ričika, 2007, 1) With that, the work’s author tries to say that maintaining communications in healthcare institutions is very important and significant, because the popular verdict should not be ignored. „Public relations, as well as communication process, cannot be separated from public opinion. It’s coherent that the influence of public relations on this environment can be evaluated and measured only in longstanding period of time.” (Stašāne, 2006, 236) The most important thing in healthcare service communication development, in the author’s opinion, is establishment of long-term and systematic communication with the target audience.

2. PUBLIC RELATIONS WORK ANALYSIS OF NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE

            Theoreticians, practicians and researchers suggest different definitions of public relations. Amongst theoreticians there can be observed very variable perception of meaning and usage of this branch. However, on the whole, all of them agree that the work of public relations can be considered as     a single process, respectively, it can be said that formation of public relations in organization is a task-oriented communication process with the main purpose of handing over its message to a distinct target audience.

            Total characteristic of public relations in organization in regulations of NHS (accessible at www.vmnvd.gov.lv[4]) is stated that public relations office is obliged to define its target audience and to work with it. As far as it’s a part of the National Health Service, its target audience is the whole population of Latvia. It is very wide and hard-hitting, since within the segmentation process, delivery of information has to be even to all people in the country. In this subparagraph it’s courageous to mention the Service’s public relations work with clients or certain target audience. It’s the only way to learn if the work is resultative; consequently, if the messages are heard and understood. It’s important, since the whole public relations work is based on communication (that is, informating society). Mostly, working days of public relations specialists consist of sending e-mails and answering relevant questions. Also, they’re often full with answering questions of media workers (mostly, about healthcare services that are State-paid), article writing, and renewing the Service’s webpage. With an eye to successful work flowing, the Service organizes internal meetings and presentations (made by NHS and other organizations), where information is not only given in the whole, but also explained in an eye-to-eye communication.

Influence on the target audience and communication with it generally, influence on a certain target audience and its consciousness can be appraised by certain criterions (or indexes). For instance, how the targeted audience understands a message that the Service sends to it or how far it spreads (the author maintains a focus on the question whether the audience agrees with the message or not). The author of the work can mention the Service’s campaign called „Pārbaudi veselību, valsts maksā!”. The main message of the campaign was to make citizens aware of how much the timely usage of the cancer screening program matters. As far as the campaign is long-term, the audience’s opinion is going to form slowly, too. Of course, in order to estimate and understand the public relations office’s work faster, there should be made a specialized sociological research that could show an actual influence on the target audience.

In the end, it should be mentioned that the work of public relations should not be judged independently from other communication disciplines and organizational work in the whole. An attitude to a company forms not only by articles in newspapers, but also by daily work with a target audience and other connected groups of people.  

conclusions

Within the paper preparation, the author got acknowledged of the National Health Service work. The author has analyzed organization of work of public relations in the NHS.

1.         The aim of NHS is to implement State policy for availability of health care services; administrate the State budgetary funds prescribed for health care.

2.         By implementing a function of NHS to "inform society about accessible health services and a sequence of receipt of them, as well as consult citizens about their rights when receiving these services”, the National Health Service furnishes services that are directed to educate citizens about a sequence of receipt of State-paid services.

3.         NHS gets part of the budget for health services every year, which is split by Latvian Ministry of Health. Public relations office doesn’t get any money directly from Ministry of Health, but it gets a part of the National Health Service’s alloted budget.

4.         In the year 2013, both electronic and printed media, essentially, got the information about budgeting of health care services and the volume of them, the process of contract making, as well as State-paid service and compensable medicine sequence of receipt, and other important questions.

 



[1] Nacionālā veselības dienesta nolikums [Elektronisks resurss] / resurss apskatīts 2013. gada 3. janvārī. Pieejas veids: tīmeklis http://www.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=239184

[2] Nacionālā veselības dienesta raksturojums [Elektronisks resurss] / resurss apskatīts 2013. gada 3. janvārī. Pieejas veids: tīmeklis http://www.vmnvd.gov.lv/lv/par-nvd/77-par-nvd

[3] Nacionālā veselības dienesta nolikums [Elektronisks resurss] / resurss apskatīts 2013. gada 11. martā. Pieejas veids: tīmeklis http://www.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=239184

[4] Nacionālā veselības dienesta nolikums [Elektronisks resurss] / resurss apskatīts 2013. gada 3. martā. Pieejas veids:tīmeklis http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=239184

linda.klige@inbox.lv doesn't pay for the work. Have no truck with her.




The Latvian National Health Service

24.11.2013 | Views: 734