Editorial, /

Editorial by HFE President John Bowis 

In 2014, Health First Europe will celebrate 10 years of working to ensure the well-being of European citizens by fostering access to the most innovative technologies to prevent, diagnose, monitor, manage, treat and cure diseases.  Our work this year will continue to build upon our belief that “health is wealth” by aiming for more sustainable healthcare in Europe, supporting patients to seek trusted information, protecting patients in health settings and making innovations in health systems more accessible to patients.

The focus in 2014 will be to take forward many of our previous accomplishments in 2013. For example, we worked towards making accessibility to innovation a key priority of Europe as part of discussions on the medical devices directive, the European Parliament own-initiative report on patient safety, and particularly within our Model for Community Care. We recognise that the demands of patients for healthcare results in greater patient responsibility for maintaining health and well-being, and innovations can play a positive role in developing more efficient, safe and timely care for all of us.

Achieving sustainable health care

Aiming to facilitate these reforms with a long-term view for achieving sustainable healthcare, the model was presented to EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg on 9 December 2013. Following our fruitful discussions with the Commissioner, Health First Europe will continue to seek collaboration with EU health stakeholders and policymakers in 2014 to foster a dedicated community care policy at EU level. Health First Europe will be focused on showcasing how community care can provide high quality care while supporting individuals with chronic diseases to better self-manage conditions and live independently.

Supporting patients to seek trusted health information

Health literacy and patient empowerment are important European Commission health priorities particularly as part of discussions on chronic diseases and the expansions of eHealth.  Health First Europe believes that patient-focused solutions are the future of healthcare and we are working to encourage initiatives that not only empower patients to manage disease, but also to prevent illness. HFE believes that for patients to be empowered, they first need to have the tools to better understand health information. With this goal in mind, in 2013 Health First Europe developed a Statement on Health Literacy that focused on encouraging patients to seek trusted information about their health in order to foster healthier behaviours.

In 2014, HFE will aim to support initiatives that incentivise citizens to keep track of their health, as well as initiatives that provide accessibility to preventive services (such as screening and diagnostic testing).

Ensuring safety for patients

In 2013, Health First Europe welcomed the adoption of the Own-Initiative Report from Member of the European Parliament Mr. Oreste Rossi (EPP, Italy) which reinforced many of HFE’s recommendations on patient safety such as encouraging Member States to set national reduction targets, to utilise standardised criteria set by the ECDC, provide information to patients on risk and prevalence of HAIs to publicly report annually on HAIs and to foster advanced training of healthcare professionals in HAIs. Following this report, and the activities of Health First Europe, the European Commission launched a public consultation in December 2013 for European stakeholders on patient safety. A second progress report on the implementation of the Council Recommendations on patient safety is expected in April 2014, and Health First Europe will be closely following developments as Member States again report on the steps taken to reduce infection. In 2014, Health First Europe will also continue its participation in the European Network for patient safety and quality care as a collaborating partner.

Making innovations accessible

Health First Europe has been engaged in a continuous dialogue with policymakers on health technology assessment (HTA) since 2010. In 2013, we welcomed the official launch of the permanent European network for HTA as prescribed by the Directive on patient’s rights in cross border healthcare and sought to ensure that the network provides for the meaningful involvement of stakeholders. It is imperative that the network consider stakeholder views on HTA decisions and allow them to be part of the decision-making process for greater transparency and confidence in EU joint assessments. HFE will continue to advance these ideals in 2014 through an ongoing dialogue with the European Commission and the Council.

In our tenth year, we will again aim to encourage truly patient-centric care in all areas of health delivery. This year, as always, we will be working towards increasing positive health outcomes for all of us in Europe.