Healthcare Public policy Cross-sector

Alcimed Position Paper – The hospital in France: a cost or an investment?

Published on 15 February 2021 Read 25 min

In France, hospitals are generally perceived as costs, that must absolutely be controlled. Or as the first local employer, the slightest change in activity of which risks destroying the local economy. However, at a time when hospitals are more mobilized than ever in the fight against the epidemic, at a time when caregivers are constantly on a tightrope, it is time to question our collective perception of the hospital, and to consider it as a player in regional attractiveness and economic development.

How to get the hospital out of the “funder/ funded” logic for the benefit of the local development of regions?

Even if this logic is nowadays challenged, the relation between the hospital and public authorities remains for the most part that of “funder/funded”. And even if this logic is compulsory, it permanently impregnate our conception of the hospital to the detriment of a vision of the hospital as a player in the attractiveness and competitiveness of its territory. Besides, the Coronavirus crisis has given a further blow to the principle of funding the hospital in the light of its efficiency. Jean Pisany-Ferry, an economist, does not say anything else when he wonders about the sustainability of this method of financing:

“Many wonders why hospitals were subjected to austerity, during so much time, until it was hastily lifted at the start of the epidemic”

Thus, more and more hospitals are seeking to break away from this monolithic vision, by assessing their social and economic impact on the territory. Hospitals from Nice, Brest, Saint-Etienne, Limoges, and many others, have done so since 2013.  Hospitals are then seen as job creators, leading to a financial contribution to the local economy, which stimulates economic growth through economic multipliers.

Hospitals also have a role to play in local investment and contribute more and more to economic development. By attracting skilled labour and complementary activities (social, cultural and economic), hospitals play an important role in local life. Finally, hospitals – and in particular university hospitals, which are centers of excellence for training and research, contribute to the attractiveness and influence of the territory in which they are located.

In this position paper, Alcimed invites you to explore the three following questions:

  • What is the economic and social impact of the hospital on its territory?
  • How to calculate this impact?
  • How is hospital a true factor of attractiveness for its territory?
  • How does the hospital contribute to local and regional competitiveness and innovation?

It is all these impacts, sizable and less sizable, that we analyse in this white paper. The objective of this exercise was not for us to carry out an analysis of the hospital in all its complexity, but rather to offer a counterpoint to our collective perception of the hospital. Have a good reading and do not hesitate to contact us if you want to go further together!

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