Editorial by HFE President John Bowis
At Health First Europe, we believe that “Health equals wealth.” We believe that investment in the healthcare systems throughout Europe will contribute to a more efficient, effective and productive society. And we believe that citizens must have access to the innovations that are a result of that investment in health. That is why every year we devise a working programme which enlists us to undertake specific awareness raising campaigns and events which further these beliefs based on the agenda of EU policymakers. We use our working programme to make a real difference in the lives of patients – which in essence, is each and every one of us.
2011 is no exception and Health First Europe endeavours to engage with policymakers on some of the issues most pressing to patients. Our working programme consists of four themes: e-Health, patient safety, Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and the Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing. These four themes append the continued work of the EU institutions and aim to demonstrate where the collective voice of patients, healthcare professionals, experts and industry is lacking.
Regarding e-Health, Health First Europe will advance the recommendations encompassed in our “E-Quality in E-Health” publication. Our recommendations look to establish the strongest demands of our members from each health constituency perspective. The EU continues to devise ways to further the uptake of e-Health products and services through the e-Health Action Plan and through the Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing. At the same time, we look to contribute our ideas as to how the patient, healthcare professional and industry can be better equipped to face the current barriers in the e-Health domain.
Additionally, Health First Europe will be looking to policymakers to determine more stringent guidelines following the review of the Council Recommendations on patient safety including the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections. Health First Europe will be forming a Task Force to determine the next steps on patient safety in conjunction with the European Commission’s review of the Member States’ implementation of the recommendations from 2009.
Health Technology Assessment (HTA)
More and more Member States are turning to HTA as a means to determine which innovative products and services should be allowed on the market. Though the process is intended to safeguard the patient, many times HTAs inevitably reduce the ability of patients to access technologies which could ease their afflictions. In order to ensure that the determinations of HTAs are well-founded, Health First Europe will look to encourage further transparency of HTAs and increased stakeholder involvement in the HTA process.
Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing
The European Commission has set out to extend healthy living years of European citizens by two years by 2020 under its EU 2020 strategy. The Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing is the first pilot partnership to be undertaken as part of the Innovation Union under this strategy and it began with a consultation for stakeholders in January 2011 to which HFE contributed. As the partnership evolves with a Steering Committee and a strategic implementation plan, Health First Europe will participate in the process by sharing our ideas about how to utilise innovative programmes and technologies to increase healthy living years for European citizens.
Our four themes for this year highlight the type of work Health First Europe has pursued every year since we were established in 2004. We regard investment in health as the cornerstone of a sustainable Europe and we look for ways to assist policymakers in achieving that goal. Afterall, the “wealth” Europe wants to achieve as a society, can only be attained with the advent of “health” for those assisting in that achievement. Health truly does equal wealth.