HEALTHCARE systems in the EU require adaptation and rethinking to ensure they can provide patient-centred care in the context of current pressures. This is according to the 28 Country Health Profiles and Companion Report published by the European Commission, which provides a context-sensitive, comprehensive analysis previously thought to be lacking.
Issues such as financial pressures, migration, modern technology, and an ageing population have brought about new challenges to healthcare; in this environment, the analysis looked at the health of the population and important risk factors in addition to the efficacy of health systems in the EU over a 2-year period.
The Companion report identified five areas in which improvements need to be made:
- Greater emphasis on disease prevention: while 80% of health budgets were spent on treating disease, just 3% was aimed at prevention, an imbalance that needs to be addressed. Additionally, the report highlights that socially-disadvantaged individuals are less likely to engage in behaviours that can prevent disease, such as physical activity and cancer screening.
- Improving primary care to avoid wasteful spending: among other worrying statistics, 27% of visits to an emergency department were found to be caused by inadequate primary care.
- Ensuring a more joined-up approach to care: most health systems were shown as fragmented and complicated for the patient to use.
- Proactive workforce planning: policy makers need to ensure that the growing number of healthcare workers in the EU can cope with future trends like an ageing population and multimorbidity through improved recruitment practices, new skills, and utilising technical innovation.
- Ensuring a patient-centred approach to health data: experiences of patients should be at the heart of new health data improved by digital technology, helping enhance the effectiveness of health systems.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, stated: “By offering comprehensive data and insights, we aim to support national health authorities in tackling the challenges and in making the right policy and investment choices. I hope they will make good use of it.”
Voluntary exchanges and responses between national authorities will be able to take place from the start of 2018 to begin the development of appropriate policy responses to the findings.
James Coker, Senior Editorial Assistant