EASO is a partner of the EU Health Coalition and chair of the Health Systems Policy Group and was delighted to moderate a session on ‘Health Systems’ at the recent Coalition Summit on 26 October 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the importance of collaboration between all sectors and actors in order to have healthcare systems that can function to their best ability in saving lives. The EU Health Coalition first came together as 33 organisations in 2018 and jointly developed 20 recommendations and a shared vision of health. Now, in 2020, it is time for action. Participants at the Summit discussed and developed actions to implement ten focused recommendations into concrete policy change to improve health system resilience and citizen’s health:
- Support the measurement and collection of standardised health data, including outcomes relevant for people and patients, throughout European health systems
- Establish a Forum for Better Access to Health Innovation
- Facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships with regions and cities
- Ensure effective EU health coordination and leadership at high level
- Invest in Europe as a true research and innovation hub
- Coordinate research efforts across Europe to be able to jointly tackle emerging complex health challenges
- Ensure greater flexibility to support translational research
- Accelerate the creation of a European Health Data Space
- Ensure eHealth interoperability across the continuum of care
- Establish an ethical framework for Artificial Intelligence that is both flexible and specific to the healthcare sector
The Summit brought together a wide range of stakeholders and was attended by over 600 participants committed to keeping health high on the political agenda. Live discussions took place throughout the afternoon with distinguished speakers including the German Minister of Health Jens Spahn, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides, Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Andrea Ammon, Members of the European Parliament Dolors Montserrat and Nicolae Stefanuta, Head of Cabinet of Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, Despina Spanou, and Normunds Popens, the Deputy Director General for Regional Policy, European Commission. Many other expert speakers provided their input during the 4 breakout sessions which tackled: Policies for health, Digital health and health data, Healthcare systems, and Research and Innovation.
A key take-away from the Summit was the need for partnerships and multi-stakeholder collaboration for successful implementation of policy actions. Jens Spahn, German Minister for Health, stressed that it is “only by working together that real change can be made”, and Commissioner Stella Kyriakides declared “real change happens in partnership” and “solidarity saves lives”.
According to @EU_Commission Commissioner @SKyriakidesEU "it is vital to have a common #vision4health” – this vision should be strengthened by #partnerships, #research, #crossborder collaboration and #solidarity 👏🏼@Vision4Health #Time4Action #Strongertogether pic.twitter.com/MuWfxCQl85
— EUREGHA (@EUREGHA) October 26, 2020
During the Health Systems breakout session, Jacqueline Bowman-Busato (EU Policy Lead at EASO), explained that COVID-19 has highlighted the vulnerability of our health care systems, especially in terms of care delivery, inequalities, responsiveness and resilience. Another key take-away echoed by many speakers and participants on the day was the need for the EU to play an increased role in health.
Key recommendations for health systems included implementing standardised data measurements and collection for the transformation of raw data into meaningful information to improve health outcomes relevant for people and patients. This would also allow for meaningful comparisons between and within countries, also leading to reduction of unacceptable health inequalities and more easily identifying and sharing best practices.
Melitta Jakab @melittajakab WHO – better outcomes data can serve different purposes on different levels of the health system, both at provider, regional and national level, e.g. to benchmark outcomes and manage population health #Time4Action @Vision4Health pic.twitter.com/6CnGUDmko0
— Thomas Allvin (@ThomasAllvin) October 26, 2020
A Forum for Better Access to Health Innovation should be established to discuss drivers and barriers to access innovation, including economic, budgetary, organisational, and regulatory. Melitta Jakab, Senior Health Economist at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, further pointed out “co-creation has to be on a local level. It is very important to involve communities and practitioners”. Strengthened cooperation between countries and healthcare stakeholders is fundamental in establishing a true European Health Union.
MEP Nicolae Stefanuta (Renew, Romania) encouraged that “we should stop regarding health expenditure as a cost only but rather as an investment, and avoid that health budgets are cut in the aftermath of the pandemic economic crisis. Because health is wealth”.
Collaboration between Member States, regions and local stakeholders will lead to better health outcomes in the EU and more resilient health systems, capable of tackling future health threats. By bringing together a wide range of stakeholders and having them engaged in discussions, the Summit proposed concrete actions through which the Coalition’s recommendations can be translated into policy action.
You can watch the Summit recordings at: