Health crises, ageing populations, rising expectations for high quality services and technological progress are challenging the sustainability and resilience of health systems. These factors show the need for structural adjustments and/or reforms to enhance public health and the efficiency, resilience and sustainability of health systems, while guaranteeing equitable access to quality services.
EU Member States are engaging in reforms to address these challenges and to enshrine them in their national health programmes, policies and strategies. The Commission offers hands-on implementation support to health authorities to implement reforms and exchange good practices with other EU Member States, thus complementing other available support.
In line with European Commission and national priorities, the Commission contributes to better protect the health of citizens, to enable Member States to prevent and address future pandemics and to improve resilience of Member States’ health systems. As such, the objectives are, both during a crisis and in normal to help better protect people’s health and to practically improve the ground for sustainable investments in strong health systems and the healthcare workforce.
Enhancing the resilience and sustainability of health systems
Enhancing the resilience and sustainability of health systems is a key objective of structural reforms in this field the Commission engages with Member States administrations, including Ministries of Health, health insurers and other public health authorities on a wide range of topics.The Commission provides support in improving health systems in areas such as cross-border healthcare, digital health, health technology assessment, health workforce, health systems performance assessment, financing and reimbursement mechanisms, quality of care, mental care, long-term care and regulatory frameworks to support a competitive pharmaceutical industry and to reduce medicines’ shortages.
EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT AREAS
- Access to care and quality of care
- Primary care
- Hospital Care
- Health workforce
- Integration of care
- Medicines’ shortages
- Long-term care
- Mental health
The Commission has been supporting Slovenia in four strategic reform areas. The collaboration between Slovenia and the European Commission on key reform areas has facilitated the preparation and adoption of laws and regulations.
The Commission supports the health authorities of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in improving their hospital systems to deliver healthcare that is safe, accessible and effective.
The Commission supports the health authorities of Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia in assessing the performance of their health systems in order to enable them to further improve the efficiency of health systems.
The Commission is supporting Austria in its efforts to implement a primary health care reform and provide effective start-up services to enable health professionals to start their own primary health care units.
Digitalisation of healthcare
Digitalisation of healthcare is one of the priorities for health system transformation. Citizens should have secure access to their health data, also across borders. Citizens should be empowered to use digital tools to look after their health, stimulate prevention and enable feedback and interaction with the healthcare providers. A number of the currently running health projects at the Commission are linked to digitalisation of healthcare systems, either developing national strategies, new governance models or solving interoperability issues.
The support measures are expected to enable the authorities to set the strategic, governance and technical frameworks to guide the efficient digital transformation of health systems and investments in digital health infrastructure.
EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT AREAS
- Digital health
- Digital governance
The Commission is supporting Croatia in its efforts to develop e-Health Strategic Development Plan 2020-2027 and Action Plan 2021-2022.
COVID-19 has posed significant challenges and has highlighted many weaknesses in the health and social care systems of countries around the world.
On 15 September 2020, the Croatian Ministry of Health and the Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support of the European Commission of the EU organised a workshop ‘’Building survivable eHealth strategies during crisis’’ to share the knowledge on how to develop a resilient eHealth strategy for the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework. The workshop gathered a broad range of digital health experts from national health ministries, health care facilities, and informatics.
This paper presents several eHealth innovations developed and used at local and national levels to help coping with the COVID-19 world pandemic in spring 2020 and provides a handful of practical recommendations and action points to the EU and national stakeholders.
Public health, disease prevention and health promotion
Public health, disease prevention and health promotion are key to improving the resilience of health system, in particular but not only in times of health crises. Many diseases are preventable and can be diagnosed early before a patient is in need of treatment. Citizens should benefit from holistic public health policies and have access to disease prevention and health promotion services.
The support measures are expected to enable the authorities to set the strategic, governance and technical frameworks to guide the efficient transformation of public health and related policies promoting good health and preventing diseases.
EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT AREAS
- Public health
- Antimicrobial resistance
- Infectious diseases
- Cancer screening
The Commission is supporting Germany in its efforts to design a framework for the wider rollout of genomics in healthcare service delivery, specifically in cancer and rare diseases.
The Commission supports French authorities in their efforts to design and implement measures ensuring that ‘off-patent’ (usually generic) antibiotics remain available for human and animal use.