Health is an economic and social driver for Europe. Demographic shifts, greater demand and ongoing financial restrictions are putting European health systems under extreme pressure.
At the same time health inequalities are widening between member states and within member states. Research suggests that spending more on health does not necessarily result in better health outcomes. Increasingly it is becoming clear that it is not how much money that matters but how that money is spent. Intelligence and evidence based health care provision is key to transforming health systems.
Aligned to this is the investment model underpining a transition to a 21st century model of healthcare – the two points of leverage the EU has – is its R&D capacity and its ability to innovate. Friends of Europe will spotlight the opportunities that lie ahead to incentivise system change through demonstration of innovation and alternative models of healthcare. Prevention is key to balancing budgets with better health outcomes, yet the majority of EU member states spend their money on the consequences of poor health and not the causes. This require a paradigm shift.
Waste is an obvious but complex area to tackle. Inertia in the system, bureaucracy, and a focus on cost containment add to the problem. This limits the resilience of health system to cope with future challenges like climate change and pandemics.
A core facet for the 21st century health care system is harnessing the potential of digital with a citizen and patient centred approach. Friends of Europe will also aim to address the brave new world of health by reflecting on and debating the implications of AI, gene editing, 3D printing and big data. Our role will be to provoke thinking on the importance of innovation and disruption as an accelerator for healthier societies.
Health is dear to the hearts of citizens, ranking highly in Eurobarometer surveys of personal priorities. Despite not being an EU competency, health is an opportunity for Europe to connect with its citizens and demonstrate its added value to their lives.