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Health in the EU report. And: The healthcare workforce has to be prepared for technical innovation and patients should be at the centre of better health data for policy and practice.
The Commission (DG SANTE) has published 28 Country Health Profiles of EU Member States along with a companion report for 2017. This two-year initiative called 'The State of Health in the EU' provides policy makers, interest groups, and health practitioners with factual, comparative data and insights into health and health systems in EU countries.
The reports, developed in cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, suggest that only by rethinking our health systems can we ensure that they remain fit-for-purpose and provide patient-centred care.
Key findings
Five cross-cutting conclusions come forward in the Companion Report:
  • Patients should be at the centre of the next generation of better health data for policy and practice. The digital transformation of health and care has great potential for strengthening the effectiveness of health systems. Patient-centred health data contributes to patient outcomes, whilst reducing wasteful spending in healthcare.
  • Health promotion and disease prevention pave the way for a more effective and efficient health system. Aside from the unbalanced investments in prevention, social inequalities need to be tackled, as illustrated by the differences in cancer screening or physical activity between people with higher and lower income and education.
  • Strong primary care efficiently guides patients through the health system and helps avoid wasteful spending. 27% visit an emergency department because of inadequate primary care. Only 14 EU countries require primary care referral for consulting a specialist; 9 other countries have financial incentives for referrals.
  • Integrated care ensures that a patient receives joined-up care. It avoids the situation we currently see in nearly all EU countries, where care is fragmented and patients have to search their way through a maze of care facilities.
  • Proactive health workforce planning and forecasting make health systems resilient to future evolutions. The EU has 18 million healthcare professionals, and another 1.8 million jobs will be created by 2025. Health authorities need to prepare their workforce for upcoming changes: an ageing population and multimorbidity, the need for sound recruitment policies, new skills, and technical innovation.
The companion report also highlights the need to recognise the contribution that patients themselves can make as “co-producers” of care, as well as the part played by informal carers. Redistributing roles to patients and informal carers through promoting self-management, developing health literacy and through formalising (and perhaps remunerating) non-health professional providers of care, are of value both in putting persons at the centre and in finding cost-effective ways of responding to individual and complex needs.
To access the Companion Report and Country Health Profiles, please click here.