Today, the EU Expert Group on Health Systems Performance Assessment (HSPA) publishes its report "A new drive for primary care in Europe: rethinking the assessment tools and methodologies" to help policy makers and health practitioners to set objectives and measure progress towards improving primary care services for the benefit of patients.
The report examines core aspects of well-performing primary care systems, focusing on their key functions such as access, coordination of care and continuity of care. The analysis confirms that performance assessment in primary care paves the way for better health outcomes, and improves the overall health system. However, there is significant scope to advance primary care performance assessment in Europe.
The report puts into focus three main challenges which should be addressed to advance in performance assessment in primary care: 1) the complexity of the performance aspects of primary care; 2) difficulty in integrating assessments into policies; and 3) pitfalls associated with a culture of excellence. To ensure that performance assessment maximises its potential, the report recommends the following seven essential elements for building primary care performance assessment:
- Improve primary care information systems
- Embed performance assessment in policy processes
- Institutionalise performance systems
- Ensure accountability
- Consider patients' experience and values
- Take advantage of adaptability, which performance assessment can support in the moment of change for primary care
- Support a goal-oriented approach through the better use of professional and contextual evidence
Health Systems Performance Assessment (HSPA)
Assessing the performance of health systems is essential to understanding how they work, and therefore to improving them for the benefit of patients. A good performance assessment provides a strong evidence-based approach to policy making. It also provides transparency and objective evidence that ensures accountability to citizens.
The EU Expert Group on HSPA is a Member State-driven group supported by the Commission. It was established in 2014 to provide a framework for exchanging national HSPA experience and for promoting mutual learning. It aims at supporting national policy-makers by identifying – through regular reports, tools and methodologies to conduct HSPA at national level. The expert group has focused successively on key priorities such as quality of care, integrated care, and now primary care, and - through its reports, has provided the building blocks to analyse performance and measure the progress towards those priorities. International organisations and institutions such as the OECD and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies proactively contribute to the work of the Expert Group.
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