The EC is providing guidance on how to improve access to healthcare in Europe.

UM – 04/2021

The health systems in Europe differ. This applies to their organisation, their financial resources, the range of services provided and the extent of payments to be paid out of "their own pockets". These differences exist because the health systems were designed by the member states. For example, in Austria and Denmark the share of government health expenditure in gross domestic product is comparatively high at around 8.2 per cent, whilst in Cyprus or Lithuania it is lower at just over four per cent (source: Eurostat).

Patients’ needs should count

Nevertheless, they are allowed to consider and look at potential improvements and at raising potentials within the framework of their own national circumstances. The Commission published a report from an EU expert group on HSPA (Health Systems Performance Assessment) on April 15, 2021. The experts' actual approach is to seriously accept a claim that is often and readily put forward - namely to put the patients at the centre. Specific proposals have been made for this. 

Improving the basic data

A good healthcare system focuses on patients. Reliable information about needs, burdens, unmet needs and barriers to providing care is essential. There is a lack of such data. The necessary surveys and measurements are also lacking. To improve this situation:

  • tools should be described for measuring equality issues in the distribution of health services in heterogeneous national societies 
  • methods should be created for measuring access to health services
  • ideas about how networked data sources can be used to develop suitable approaches for patients with special health concerns should be outlined

The first results from the "patient vignette" pilot study will be presented, in whose model framework theoretical approaches for measuring the patients’ perspective will be tested in practice.

Better health opportunities for the socially disadvantaged

The HSPA claims that more efforts are needed to develop appropriate tools for measuring patient-friendly access, both at European and member state level. The decisive factor here is reaching those who are less well off more quickly. Finally, access to health services has a strong social component. The COVID-19 pandemic had significantly increased the challenges posed by poor health and social disadvantages.