SPL22 • Innovation of Health Professions

According to the EESC, the European Economic and Social Committee, around 22% of workers in Europe are linked to the liberal professions.
In macro terms, regarding what occurs in Portugal in this sector, excluding arts and culture, so we can make a comparison with our neighboring country:

  • 21.7% of Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy
  • 16.5% of direct employment
  • 26.3% of the business fabric
  • 28.7% of business investment in R&D (Research and Development)

In Spain, where the liberal professions and professionals are much more protected in their rights and valued in their duties, according to the Unión Profesional, which will be represented at the Forum and encompasses around 1,500,000 professionals covering the legal, health, economic, social, scientific, architecture, engineering and teaching sub-sectors, the professional services sector represents:

  • 13.1% of the Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy
  • 4.4% of direct employment
  • 19.1% of the business fabric and over
  • 30% of business investment in R&D (Research and Development)

In other words, two very similar realities, the Portuguese and Spanish, in their importance for European construction in statistical terms, as would be expected. But very different in terms of effective recognition. We have an absolute need to conduct further studies and characterize the reality of the liberal professions in Portugal. For liberal health professionals, qualification, autonomy, independence, confidentiality, disclosure of conflicts of interest, among other fundamental values that distinguish and project the liberal professional, are essential. Qualification and risk-taking ability bounded by ethical and deontological principles, capable of structuring and self-regulating themselves. There is a tradition of autonomy, independence and self-regulation in the organization of the liberal professions that naturally accompanies us in an evolutionary way to the present day.

And, naturally, professional ethics; the ethics intrinsic to the practice of all liberal professions. The ethics of dealing with the asymmetry of information that qualified liberal professionals hold in the provision of their services. Although access to digital information has greatly reduced this gap of information asymmetry between the liberal professional and their clients or patients, interpretation of information remains fundamental. Organizations have a path to follow. Not only in terms of governance, inclusion, sustainability, namely economic and environmental, disclosure of conflicts of interest, but also taking into account the ethics of the professions. 

The citizen has the right to know that the organizations and companies, public or private or in the social sector where liberal professionals provide services or practice, comply with codes of conduct or corporate codes, but also with professional ethics. A liberal professional does not cease to be one by working for someone else and having a classic employment contract. A doctor does not lose their technical autonomy, independence or ethics by being part of the National Health Service… The values of a liberal professional and their guiding principles remain regardless of the contractual relationship. There’s an opportunity within Portugal’s healthcare system for a not-for-profit model that leverages the benefits of private practice but operates without a primary focus on profit. 

This approach would shift the emphasis back to the quality of medical care rather than the quantity of procedures performed, ensuring healthcare professionals are fairly compensated for their valuable contributions. This panel addresses interest in the topic, allowing various stakeholders to discuss the theme and add value while simultaneously promoting the initiative. This is particularly relevant given the low level of awareness surrounding the entire social model, and specifically, the medical cooperative model in Portugal. 

The opportunity to foster literacy on the subject, enabling diverse stakeholders to engage in discussions about the theme and contribute to its depth. The goal is to enhance understanding and awareness of the cooperative and third-sector models in healthcare management in Portugal. This focus on educational promotion is key, given the broad interest and varying degrees of familiarity with these models among the public and professionals alike.

June 1st | 09h30-11h00 | Coordinator: Orlando Monteiro da Silva

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