The project HSREP aimed to identify, evaluate and improve the contribution of Health Services Research (HSR) to the health policy process at national and European level, and thus help optimize the delivery of health care services to European citizens.
Through a working conference in 2010 as well as various other activities, priorities were identified in five main HSR areas and then summarized in a policy brief, final report and scientific articles. A selection of priorities was later used in the 2012 call of the EU Seventh Framework Programme.
After successful finalisation of the project, the HSR network continues to organise activities in order to strengthen the European research community as well as its contribution to policy making. A second working conference is being held as satellite event to the European Public Health Conference in Malta 2012, addressing how to improve international comparability of HSR.
Europe’s health systems face several challenges, such as population ageing, a rise in chronic conditions, declining workforces and increasing cost pressures. These developments create a need for finding evidence to tackle common health care problems across Europe.
Health services research (HSR) can help decision-makers address the challenges they face and provide scientific evidence to inform policies and practices, thus resulting in more effective policy measures and health care systems that are both efficient and responsive to the needs of European citizens.
The project HSREP aimed to identify, evaluate and improve the contribution of Health Services Research (HSR) to the health policy process at national and European level, and thus help optimize the delivery of health care services to European citizens. Objectives were:
Given its broad nature the field was divided into five main areas, around which all activities such as literature searches and online consultations were centred:
A major activity has been the creation of a platform for new research in the form of a European HSR working conference in April 2010, which took place on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 April 2010 in The Hague, the Netherlands.
The meeting was attended by about 350 researchers and policy makers from a little less than 40 countries, both European and from other regions. To validate the outcomes of the meeting its results were further refined during workshops and presentations at other conferences. A final report and special issue of the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy in July 2011 provide overviews of HSR and describe the contribution that it makes to policy-making.
Main outcomes were also summarized in a policy brief in April 2011. It provides an overview of future major research priorities based on policy-makers’ and researchers’ views at a national and European level. Examples are the need to evaluate health care reforms, the integration of care across organisations, research into the broader consequences of health technologies, stronger focus on the development and use of performance indicators and improving knowledge of how HSR is undertaken and used.
In addition, the policy brief provides an overview of strategies to improve the use of research in policy, including a better balance between different types of research funding, tools to avoid the duplication of studies and learning from best examples in, among others, HTA regarding rapid assessments of research evidence (see www.healthservicesresearch.eu for details).
The policy brief and other publications are intended for both producers and users of HSR at national and international level. A number of priority areas were incorporated in the 2012 call of the Seventh Framework Programme. The policy brief was also shared at national MoH level in each of the 34 participating countries, offering assistance in establishing priorities at national level.
The added value of the HSREPP project lies not only in the production and effective dissemination of its deliverables, but also by initiating and establishing new activities after the project period. Next to follow-up events in 2011, a second working conference is being held in 2012, addressing how to improve international comparability of HSR. Through its website, the project also offers a clearing-house function on European HSR. As anyone can display relevant events or research outcomes, this will help build an online repository of relevant HSR, which can facilitate knowledge across Europe.