NEWS: Health First Europe attends the 7th Annual World Health Care Congress

On 13 and 14 April, the World Health Care Congress took place in Brussels, Belgium under the theme of “Managing Budgetary Constraints While Maintaining the Quality of Care.” Participants came from all areas of the globe and included Health First Europe members the European Health Telematics Association (EHTEL), EUCOMED, the European Union of Private Hospitals (UEHP)  and the European Medical Association (EMA). The conference brought together CEOs from various health industries and included the participation the European Commission and the European Parliament focusing on the inevitable changes to the delivery of healthcare as a result of the budget constraints faced by Member States.

As one of the first keynote addresses of the two-day conference, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kaiser Permanente Mr. George C. Halvorson suggested that health systems must adapt from “a culture of expertise to a culture of continuous learning and improvement” if they are to remain sustainable.  He revealed that chronic diseases are the number one cost driver of healthcare as 75% of costs can be attributed to chronic illnesses with only 25% of costs deriving from acute care treatments. He also predicted that there will be an inevitable change in how patients are insured as the difference between local insurance and global insurance will soon disappear.

Angus Russell, Chief Executive Officer of Shire pharmaceuticals and Ulf Staginnus, Head of Pricing for Novartis pharmaceuticals in Spain, also contributed to the industry perspective on the delivery of healthcare suggesting that the audience for medicines is changing as patients are much more informed about their conditions today. Mr. Staginnus suggested that medicines are increasingly becoming a sector where reimbursements are more evidence-based with reimbursement occurring over time after the benefits of the product are known.  This new business model will widen the audience of the industry from solely physicians, towards patients, policymakers and payers.

Health First Europe MEP Supporter Dr. Milan Cabrnoch (ECR, Czech Republic) provided the European political perspective on the changes in delivery of healthcare following the adoption of the Cross-border healthcare Directive and he was accompanied on the panel by European Commission official Flora Giorgio of Directorate General Information Society, ICT Unit for Health.  Ms Giorgio outlined the Commission’s work on the epSOS project as means to simplify the ability of patients to receive healthcare across borders through the implementation of an electronic patient record with interoperability between Member State health systems.  She highlighted that the pilot project, first launched in 2008, will now be enlarged from 12 participating Member States to 23.

Overall, the World Health Care Congress looked to provide information to stakeholders on the state of current European healthcare systems including the challenges faced due to budgetary constraints. However, the event also highlighted the many opportunities yet to be realised for patients due to the new realities of delivering healthcare.

NEWS: 7th Annual World Health Care Congress-Europe

On the 13th and 14th of April 2011, the 7th Annual World Health Care Congress-Europe will take place in Brussels featuring officials from the health industry and decision makers from public and private insurance funds, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, health care industry suppliers, health ministers, and leading government officials to discuss and develop actionable items to provide the highest quality of care while working under budgetary constraints.

Key attendants and speakers will include Health First Members such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA), European Health Telematics Association (EHTEL) and the European Union of Private Hospitals (UEHP). The UEHP will attend two panels and deliver a keynote speech.

Themes which are of particular interest to Health First Europe will include: Health and IT Innovations; National eHealth Initiatives to Improve the Sustainability and Quality of Health Systems; Privatization of Health Care In Europe: Strategies For Delivering Patient-Centered Care; Building Strategic Public-Private Partnerships Towards Sustainable Health Care; Aligning Incentives for All Health Care Stakeholders: Developing Models for Shared Goals, Improved Quality, and Cost Effective Care; and Models to Manage Major and Chronic Diseases.

NEWS: HFE attends 5th Annual Patients’ Rights Day: Putting citizens at the centre of EU policy

On the occasion of the 5th Annual European Patients’ Rights Day, the European Economic and Social Committee together with the Active Citizenship Network organised a conference to discuss “Putting Citizens at the Centre of EU Health Policy.” Attended by a broad array of patients’ organisations, the conference aimed to emphasise the outcomes of a project undertaken by Active Citizenship Network members to determine how the rights of patients within the European Union are respected. The report suggests that the rights of patients – as outlined by the European Charter of Patients’ Rights – are not being fully respected and that much work still needs to be done to ensure patient empowerment so that all citizens understand how to take full advantage of their rights as patients.

The conference began with an outline of the project and the methodology utilised to determine how patients’ rights are respected throughout the Member States. Mr Alessandro Lamanna of Rosapaola Meastasio in Italy presented the report and outlined some particularities within the project that showed the right of patients to access (care), the right to free choice and the right to the respect of patients’ time, have not been respected. “Not respected” is the terminology for the lowest determination on the project’s scale. However, the rights to personalized treatment, preventative measures, privacy and confidentiality and physical access were found to be “almost respected” which was the highest term on the scale of the study.

The highlight of the conference included the keynote speech delivered by Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli in which he emphasized that the financial difficulties health systems now face should not cause Member States to lose sight of the values and principles on which EU health is based. He clearly cited the need to improve patient safety and argued that investment in e-Health systems will serve as the basis for sustainable and equitable European health systems. He declared that we must, “Build a Europe that puts patients first.”

Additionally, the European Citizen Network awarded some of its members for good practices for work engaging citizens and patients in health policy. One of Health First Europe’s individual members, Ms. Judy Birch of the Pelvic Pain Support Network, was awarded for the work achieved with regards to its “Patient Involvement in HTA and Clinical Guidelines.” Health First Europe congratulates the Pelvic Pain Support Network on this great achievement.

Overall, the conference provided a snap-shot of the aspects in which health systems must improve in order to respect the rights of patients. It also delineated the responsibility of patients in understanding and utilizing their rights to assist health stakeholders in better comprehending which needs are not being met to facilitate better patient experiences.

NEWS: Conference Innovation in Healthcare: from Research to Market

The European Commission’s Directorate Generals (DGs) for Research and Innovation, Enterprise and Industry and Health and Consumers, jointly organised the second conference on Innovation in Healthcare: from Research to Market, in Brussels on the 30-31 March 2011. This conference brought together key health stakeholders including policy makers, universities, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), industry associations, researchers, patients associations and Member States to highlight and discuss the policy developments needed for research and innovation in healthcare at both European and national level under the framework of the Innovation Union. Participants discussed the major challenges facing the various governments, organisations and stakeholders in relation to improving patient-centered care through innovation and research.

Director General Robert-Jan Smits of DG Research and Innovation explained that Europe faces a lack of venture capital and fragmented regulatory practices. As a means to combat these difficulties, the European Union’s Innovation Flagship and the pilot Partnership on Healthy and Active Aging will serve as the basis for the next generation of support schemes. Additionally, a green paper was issued on 9 February 2011 to discuss major changes to EU research with stakeholders including addressing the societal challenges involved. Stakeholders are invited to submit comments until summer 2011. DG Research and Innovation wants to make sure that innovation and research will remain a key part of the European Union budget after 2013.

Also contributing to the discussion on innovation in healthcare, Hungarian Minister for Health, Dr. Miklós Szócska, described the overarching theme of the Hungarian Presidency which is patient and professional pathways. Under its’ Presidency, Hungary aims to emphasise the need to focus policy on both individuals and processes because “Healthcare systems need to be more efficient and sustainable in light of the extending lifespan.” He further expressed that an important issue for Hungary is its current investment in information technology and remarked that Hungary will build on payment and reimbursement mechanisms for patients to further ensure the sustainability of healthcare.

Representing the European Parliament, MEP Maria de Graca Carvalho (EPP, Portugal), and Rapporteur for the simplification of the Research Framework Programmes Implementation, expressed the emphasis should be placed on research on prevention in healthcare, cancer, heart diseases and neurodegenerative disease, the immune system and poverty diseases. Whereas, Guy Lebeau, Chairman of Eucomed, provided an industry perspective and offered that industry can bring improved productivity to healthcare systems with shortened hospital stays decreases in Health Care Associated Infections (HCAIs).

As one of the keynote speakers at the conference, European Health Commissioner John Dalli, discussed how the European Commission’s innovation and research platform can help to reduce overall costs to EU healthcare systems. He stated, “The innovation and research platform will inspire projects such as the Olive Branch Initiative in the UK, which brings together healthcare and key services such as the fire department.” He suggested that when new technologies are introduced, clear evidence of the costs and benefits need to be established and that Health Technology Assessments (HTA) are important in the evaluation of these new treatments.

Overall, the consensus of the conference was that flexible legislation for research and technological innovation through industry is key to facilitating cost-effective and patient centered healthcare. A full report on the outcomes of the conference will be published by DG Research in the coming weeks.

NEWS: Health First Europe attends conference on “Innovation in health and new technologies: tools for the sustainable management of public health systems”

Health First Europe attended the conference entitled “Innovation in health and new technologies: tools for the sustainable management of public health systems” organised by Fundación Comunidad Valenciana to stimulate awareness of the integration of innovation and technology with health. The event was attended by a variety of stakeholders including Anne Starkie-Alves of the European Commission Health Directorate General for Information Society and Media ICT for health (DG INFSO), Jenny-Lee Spencer, Senior Policy Manager for the National Health Service (NHS) European Office and Richard Tuffs, Director of European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN) all of whom discussed various avenues through which innovation can help to achieve more sustainable health care systems.

In her role as Policy Officer for the European Commission, Ms. Starkie-Alves, explained the current importance of, and focus on, e-Health at DG INFSO. She emphasised that technology is at the heart of policy and that we are moving into an age of closer links between technology and healthcare. She asserted that innovation plays a key role in this and that “with the ‘partnership concept’ the new focus of the EU is to work together with enterprises and industry to improve healthcare, which is key to success”. Currently, the European Commission is undertaking this partnership concept through the Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing. The Partnership is composed of a steering group of 50 stakeholders that will hold its first meeting in May 2011. Furthermore, a new e-Health Action Plan is being formulated by the Commission for 2011 to 2020 which is expected to be adopted by the executive body by the end of this year. The Action Plan will address issues to achieve interoperability, innovation and a competitive market and will include a public consultancy with stakeholders.

As Senior Policy Manager for the National Health Service, Ms. Spencer illustrated that the NHS is facing similar problems as those throughout Europe with regards to an aging population and outlined new ideas which the NHS is pursuing to ensure sustainability. One of these ideas is the Quality Innovation Productivity and Prevention strategy (QIPP). With QIPP, the NHS wants to develop more sustainable and effective pathways to healthcare systems, share best practices regarding resources and learning, and improve efficiency and quality of the NHS services to ensure better value for money.

To conclude the conference, Richard Tuffs, Director of the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN), expressed how its’ dynamic network of more than 90 EU regions and its’ Brussels-based offices, facilitates knowledge exchange, joint action and project partnerships with the aim to strengthen its member region’s research and innovation capacities. ERRIN serves as a Brussels platform for research and innovation and assists regions to get their voice heard in Brussels – which can be a real asset when moving to influence political policy making. He suggested that health care systems must find ways to participate in the policy making process in order to maintain their point of view in the uptake of new technologies within European health systems.

NEWS: HFE attends ‘E-Health – A New Holistic Healthcare Plan for Europe’

The International Centre for Parliamentary Studies together with the European Centre for Public Policy organised the E-Health: A New Holistic Healthcare Plan for Europe event which brought together various health stakeholders to determine how eHealth and can be better integrated into the health care systems of today. Panelists from all health sectors agreed that in order to take advantage of the technologies that currently exist and to further encourage innovation, a major shift in thinking needs to occur with regards to how patients, professionals and governments view the delivery of health care. Participants discussed many of the challenges to the uptake of eHealth, but solutions were not as numerous. As John Wilkinson, C.E.O. of EUCOMED proclaimed in his closing statements as Chairman of the conference, “We have digital technologies operating in analog systems.”

The two-day conference began by discussing how Europe’s infrastructure can be transformed to support the eHealth technologies that already exist. All panelists acknowledged that one of the main barriers to a supportive infrastructure for eHealth remains the funding and reimbursement systems established throughout the Member States. Jennifer Bremner, Director of the European Health Management Association, highlighted the need to invest in the whole health care system rather than just pilots and projects which includes creating financial incentives for hospitals to integrate eHealth solutions. Ms. Bremner cited the fact that technologies which reduce hospital visits are rejected by hospitals because the overall outcome of less patient visits inevitably equals less revenue for the hospitals. However, she also cited the potential of eHealth to increase patient safety and quality of care and to change the dynamic between patients and health care professionals.

Providing a medical professional perspective on eHealth, Dr. Vicenzo Costigliola of the European Medical Association, followed Ms. Bremner and suggested that doctors see eHealth as a way to provide better service to patients, who today are more informed, more motivated and demand more in terms of medical performance. He declared patients are now of the notion, “Nothing about me, without me” which empowers people not only in their roles as patients, but also as consumers. From the point of view of a consumer, the over-arching problem with eHealth is that it “remains a disruptive technology” as Mr. Michael Wilks of the eHealth Users’ Stakeholders Group pointed out.

Speaking on the final day of the conference, Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Mr. John Dalli clearly emphasized the intention of the European Commission to facilitate the uptake of eHealth technologies so that health systems can deliver better care to more people. He maintained that the European Innovation Pilot on Healthy and Active Ageing will be run with an “entrepreneurial spirit – not bureaucratic” with the goal of bringing together stakeholders who will determine how best to roll out the technologies already generated and broaden the acceptance of those technologies.

The panelists following Commissioner Dalli presented many of the ways in which eHealth technologies have the potential to improve the patient experience. Mr. Herbert Riband, Medtronic Vice-President of External Affairs, shared with participants the “Carelink” remote cardiac device made by Medtronic which allows for remote follow-ups with cardiac patients rather than face-to-face visits. The technology is currently being used by 600,000 people in 31 countries and can reduce office visits by 38%, reduce the time from medical event to clinical decision by 79% and reduce cost by 40%. However, in most health care systems, face-to-face visits are paid for, whereas remote follow-ups are not, preventing many people from utilising a technology which would allow for increased active and healthy living.

Also in the business of providing eHealth technologies, Ms. Petra Wilson, Secretary General of the Continua Health Alliance, focused her remarks on the overall theme of the conference – change in the way health care is perceived. She argued that we can no longer derive health policy from the perspective that we are “accidentally well” and the idea that we do not have to do anything special to be well. Instead, she demanded that rather than collecting data only on the ill, we must begin collecting data on those who are “pre-ill” or “well” in order to begin establishing policy from a preventative perspective. Ms. Wilson considered that eHealth and remote devices are the mechanism through which further data can be collected about the population and better policy can be achieved.

Though the opportunities afforded by eHealth were sometimes overshadowed by the many challenges posed by eHealth during the event, the conference closed by reminding participants of the promise eHealth still has for all of us. John Wilkinson closed by offering that all stakeholders have a chance to gain through eHealth – patients through quality of care; clinicians through more effective and efficient treatment; research through collection of data by remote devices; and health systems through the better management of health.

NEWS: HFE attends “Health Care Reforms in an Ageing European Society with a focus on the Netherlands”

Health First Europe attended the launch of “Health Care Reforms in an Ageing European Society” which looked specifically at the burden of cost on European healthcare systems as the population ages. The study was undertaken by the Centre for European Studies – the official think tank of the European People’s Party (EPP) – in order to determine a health system of best practice which could potentially be utilised for benchmarking. As one of the few systems which has successfully transitioned from a publicly financed system to one of competitive services, the publication and the participants in the conference focused on the reforms undertaken by the Netherlands.

Deputy Director of the Research Institute for the CDA, Dr. Evert Jan van Asselt, explained that the Netherlands was used as the focal point of the study due to its estimated long-term health care expenditures which in 2010 are 3.5 percent of GDP – almost double that of any other Member State (expect Sweden). By 2060, it is estimated that the Netherlands will spend more than 4.5 percent of GDP on health care whereas other European countries will average just 1.3 percent.

In 2006, the Netherlands began implementing curative health care reforms which included changing to a private insurance system with public guarantees. The insurance companies compete for the insured on cost, service and quality of care and are free to negotiate with hospitals on price and diagnosis treatment combinations. This system has allowed for greater efficiency, however, reimbursements are still made based on quantity of care rather than quality – an issue that continues to hamper the effectiveness of the current reforms.

Following the presentation on the report, Dr. Reinhard Busse, professor for Management in Health Care at the Technical University of Berlin and Associate Head of Research policy of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, asked the question, “Do we live longer because we are healthier? Or are our extra years plagued by disease and co-morbidity?” He clarified that there is no clear correlation between health expenditure and ageing but argued that systems must disentangle disease from costs as many of the costs incurred for older persons are tied to health maintenance rather than disease (i.e. hip replacements). He further challenged policymakers to see health care as more than financing and to address challenges through the use of health technology assessment (HTA), attention on prevention, integrated care across providers/diseases and through the use of e-Health.

As the final presenter, former Dutch Minister of Health Care and Sport Dr. Ab Klink offered his opinion on how other Member States can learn from the Dutch experience with regards to health care reforms. He suggested that rather than looking to lessen costs through cost containment or rationing of care, the ultimate goal should be for reimbursement systems to change from paying for quantity of care to paying for quality of care. He declared that efficiency in care can also reduce cost and cited the study conducted by John Hopkins University as showing that by reducing health care associated infections (HAIs), its hospital was able to save $50 million. Dr. Klink continuously emphasized that value-based health care is the only means to ensuring sustainable European health care systems as the population ages.

NEWS: HFE attends DG INFSO’s Information Day on ICT Policy Support Programmes for health

The ICT Policy Support Programme (PSP) is an aspect of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) which is used as an instrument of the European Commission to support ICT innovations by funding pilot projects in designated work areas. The Information Day held in Brussels on 28 February 2011, announced the work programmes for 2011 which included funding initiatives pertaining to ICT in health – specifically ICT solutions for fall prevention and detection, e-inclusion and e-Health.

The CIP looks to support EU policy by driving the uptake of innovation and best use of ICTs. However, these projects do not involve research but rather the testing/piloting of projects in real settings to develop a single information space, to support innovation and to enable an inclusive information society. By disseminating the results, building on Member State initiatives and preparing for wider actions, this year the CIP helps to increase the uptake of ICT solutions pertaining to energy efficiency, digital content, health, innovative governance and open innovation for internet-enabled services in smart cities.

Regarding health, the European Commission determined the themes for 2011 funding would include fall prevention and detection, e-inclusion and e-Health. The fall prevention and detection theme aims to fund several pilots focused on safety and independent living through integrated solutions with an increased specificity on home settings. E-inclusion funding will be disseminated to projects developing guidelines for deployment of innovation in ICT for ageing well and sharing of best practices. There is also funding for digital competences and social inclusionary projects which focus on domiciliary care workers and education.

In 2011, funding for e-Health projects also exists though projects receiving funds must meet the objectives of empowering patients and supporting the widespread deployment of telemedicine services. Programmes that empower patients should focus on providing secure online access to medical records and have a sound business model for long-term sustainability. In order to achieve the second objective of expanding tele-medicine services, the Commission is looking for projects which provide guidelines for increasing the deployment of such services.<:p>

All programme participation for stakeholders is determined by whether the call for proposals is of Type A, B or C. Depending on the instrument, potential participants may need to collaborate with 3-6 other organisations in differing Member States in order to receive funding for pilot projects. Further details on how to submit proposals can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/ict_psp.

Read more here.

NEWS: Health First Europe attends 4th Annual Symposium on “Rare Diseases Day”

Health First Europe attended the 4th Annual Symposium on Rare Diseases organised by EURORDIS under the heading of “Rare but Equal” to create awareness and bring attention to rare diseases and the millions of people across the globe debilitated by them. The event was attended by a wide variety of stakeholders and interest groups from more than 40 countries worldwide, which included representatives of the European Patients’ Forum, EPPOSI, Bayer Healthcare, various officials of DG Sanco, as well as Antonyia Parvanova, MEP and shadow rapporteur on the recently adopted EU Directive on Cross-Border Healthcare and Patient Mobility.

The symposium highlighted how rare diseases affect patients and the healthcare community since these diseases are typically life threatening or of severely handicapping quality – often due to the low prevalence of each disease as medical experts are rare and knowledge is scarce. Very few cures exist due in part to a lack of investment in research as profitability remains low in this medical field. Without research, many rare diseases continue to be misunderstood causing a shortage of effective treatment options for these diseases. In order to examine Europeans’ awareness and knowledge of rare diseases and their support for policy initiatives and actions taken at national and EU level, a survey was conducted in all 27 Member States showing that 17% of those surveyed knew someone suffering from a rare disease, but a larger proportion (40%) have never heard of anyone affected.

During the symposium, many panelists discussed the issue of health inequalities of rare disease patients and presented ways to tackle these issues, in addition to informing stakeholders of new developments in e-Health for rare disease patients. Numerous participants cited various aspects of the Cross-border Healthcare Directive as a mechanism for easing the burden on rare disease patients. The directive, adopted on the same day by the Council of the European Union, will allow patients with rare diseases to seek healthcare in another Member State helping to alleviate difficulties for patients who cannot find treatment within their own Member State.

The European Commission made it clear that reducing inequalities in health, specifically for rare disease patients, is key to health strategy. Stefan Schreck, DG SANCO, Head of Unit for Health Information, announced that the Commission created a committee of experts on rare diseases in December last year. It includes 50 members encompassing patient organizations, other stakeholders and the Commission, with the aim of determining further development of policy on rare diseases. Its goal is to facilitate better healthcare on the basis of principles of equity and solidarity.

Nathalie Chaze, Head of Unit for Health Strategies and Health Systems, further discussed cooperation between Member States in light of the new directive. Focus will be made on increasing quality and safety of healthcare, recognition of prescriptions across Member States (eHealth) and further collaboration between Member States to make the right decisions on health investments and spending.

NEWS: The Council adopts new rules in combating late payment in commercial transactions

Yesterday, Monday 24 January 2011, the Council adopted new rules in combating late payment in commercial transactions.

The new directive introduces for the first time penalties against local authorities that pay their bills late (beyond 30 days of the date of invoice), with a few exemptions for health care. Due to the important role healthcare play in the social infrastructure, the Directive establishes that Member States should be able to grant public entities providing healthcare a certain amount of flexibility in meeting their commitments. For that purpose, Member States should be allowed to extend the payment period up to a maximum of 60 calendar days. However, the Directive states that Member States should make every effort to ensure that payments in the healthcare sector are made within the statutory payment periods.

For more information about the Directive please see:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/intm/118920.pdf

NEWS: HFE attends ETNO 3rd Innovation Day “eHealth: an answer to EU healthcare and demographic change”

The 3rd Innovation Day conference organized by the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) brought together various telecoms to present new applications for e-health innovation in addition to highlighting the work the European Commission is undertaking in this field with the attendance of Neelie Kroes, the European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda. Focusing on the changing demographics of Europe and the obstacles presented by the increasing expenditures of Member States to healthcare budgets as a result, the telecoms looked to emphasize how their innovations could reduce costs and provide new business models for innovative care.

The highlight of the conference included the presentation of Ms. Kroes as she looked to encourage businesses to innovate in healthcare by clearly pronouncing the commitment of the European Commission to assist in creating the right business conditions for companies to further invest in e-health. She invited businesses to share their ideas with the Commission on how the EU institution can help to remove obstacles to innovation – either through the current consultation on the Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing or through more informal channels. Overall, she maintained that the demand for technology services for all aspects of independent living will continue to grow and the Commission aims to make sure that policy meets those demands.

Much of the conference itself was devoted to the telecoms newest examples of e-health innovation including KPN’s diabeticStation for patients to monitor glucose levels, blood pressure and weight in numerous languages without doctor assistance; Telefonica’s SARA solution for distance monitoring; Telecom Italia’s MyDoctor@home tele-monitoring service; Orange’s medication reminder solution enabling applications for prescriptions; DeutscheTelekom’s tenant portal service for people with disabilities which allows immobile patients to use their eyes to communicate; Belgacom’s Heart Failure project; and Portugal Telecom’s Girassol mobile broadband project for disabled people allowing diagnoses from a distance.

The conference closed with a brief question and answer session with panelists from all the telecom companies in attendance moderated by Constantijn van Oranje of Ms. Kroes cabinet. Though the debate was to be focused on how to ensure a better integration of ICT-enabled solutions by the medical community and users, the telecoms expressed that interoperability between telecom providers will continue to be an obstacle due to the amount of tenders offered by Member States -generally only one provider exists which hinders telecoms working across borders for operability. Additionally, very few telecoms were willing to further describe in detail their business models in the e-health domain.

Download here the event summary.

NEWS: HFE attends FACE Workshop of Health Inequalities: Fatal Determinants for Cancer Patients

Forum Against Cancer Europe (FACE) held a workshop in the European Parliament to discuss the need for policy in the arena of health inequalities as socioeconomic, educational, racial and legal social determinants continue to play a role in the access of patients to quality care throughout Europe. Chaired by MEP Petru Luhan (EPP, Romania), the panelists discussed how the EU institutions can contribute to modifying policy in this area and ensuring all EU Member States provide quality care regardless of social background.

Among the first panel of the workshop, Mr. Clive Needle of EuroHealthNet drew significant attention to the research undertaken both by the European Commission and by Sir Michael Marmot which clearly shows the need for policy addressing what he referred to as “the causes of the causes of ill health” in the EU. He argued for the social determinants approach of the European Commission which includes further investment in early years development, healthy ageing throughout life and sustainable development of health systems and securities. Mr. Arnaud Senn, Policy Officer in Healthcare Systems within DG EMPL, further illustrated the close connection between social inclusion/protection and poverty issues. He expressed that the Commission is currently working on determining the financial impact of long-term care on social protection so that health inequalities can be better tackled through policy. He also declared that the Commission has determined improving its knowledge base in this issue area and meeting the needs of vulnerable groups, are two of its top priorities.

The second panel of the conference looked at how health inequalities specifically affect cancer patients. However, Andrzej Rys of DG SANCO discussed how the European Commission is committed to protecting citizens from health inequalities regardless of their affliction. He also highlighted the need for developing the contribution of all policy across various sectors to health inequalities as the health of EU citizens impacts all areas of policymaking. Additionally, Professor Patricia Garcia Preito discussed the need for patient advocacy in assuring more equality of care for cancer patients.

Download here the event summary.

NEWS: Injury prevention top health priority under the Hungarian Presidency

The Hungarian Presidency took over the rotating presidency of the European Union from Belgium on 1st January this year. In terms of health priorities, the Hungarian Presidency’s overarching theme will focus on “Patient and Professional Pathways in Europe”. Under this comprehensive umbrella, the Hungarian Presidency is aiming to give priority to, among other things, “Action for Prevention” by organising an expert level conference on 30-31 May 2011, that will provide a forum for presenting and exchanging views on best practices, concrete actions, awareness raising campaigns and materials in Member States, which have proved to be successful in promoting a healthier lifestyle, especially among children and young people.

Building on the achievement of the Belgian Presidency’s work in regards to healthcare workers, one of the current presidency’s themes focuses on “Investing in the Health Care of the Future and Human Resources for Health”. During an informal health ministerial meeting, the Hungarian Presidency aims to raise issues like how the necessary knowledge-base, stock of experts, increased co-operation, joint research, exchange of information and best practices could be established to support Member State governments in their efforts to modernise their health care systems. eHealth has also become an essential keyword in modernising healthcare services. In this vein, the Hungarian Presidency is keen to promote the role of e-Health in cross-border care, in relieving workforce shortages and in IT support in health policy decision making is organising a Ministeral level conference in Budapest on 10-13 May.

Injury prevention, mental health and health security are other key issues to be address during the Hungarian leadership.

NEWS: Health First Europe attends European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing stakeholder meeting

Last Friday, 26 November 2010, the European Commission invited key health players such as public and private associations, companies, individuals and academia to participate in a multi-stakeholder meeting that aimed at seeking the views on how the EU can scale up innovation to meet the challenges of an ageing population and in particular to increase by two the average number of healthy life years for European citizens.

The kick off meeting of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on active and healthy ageing has received the support of three different Commissioners: John Dalli, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda and Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research. This is a strong message from the European Commission to commit to innovation.

Later in the day, and following the Council competitiveness meeting, EU Member States gave their support to the pilot European Innovation Partnership on active and healthy ageing. This Council support opened the European Commission’s open consultation on active and healthy ageing. Health First Europe will be contributing to this online consultation that will run till 28 January 2011.

For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/einclusion/deployment/ahaip/consultation/index_en.htm

NEWS: HFE welcomes political agreement on cross-border directive

John Bowis welcomes political agreement on cross-border Directive.

Health First Europe’s Honorary President and former MEP rapporteur of the draft directive on patient’s rights in cross-border healthcare, John Bowis, welcomed the political agreement reached at the EPSCO council meeting of ministers on health and consumer’s policy yesterday. This agreement clears the way for a second reading at the European Parliament.

“As the former rapporteur on the cross-border directive, I am extremely happy about this agreement. This is a real step forward for patients in Europe and for our health policies. It has been worthwhile the wait”, said Bowis.

In Bowis’ view, “this political agreement is important not only because it puts health policy back on the European agenda but because during the negotiations politicians understood that values of quality and safety are of paramount importance for healthcare services in Europe.”

The compromise has been possible thanks to the efforts of the EU Spanish Presidency presented the European Health Ministers a compromise text on the draft directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare last week. The initiative aims at ensuring the right of patients to enjoy the same rights when receiving cross-border healthcare as they would have enjoyed if they had received comparable services in the Member State of affiliation.

NEWS: Strong views on the Late Payment Directive

Since the European Commission launched its small business act for Europe in 2008, several discussions have been going on concerning the thorny issue of late payment. Up to 80 per cent of the medical sector is composed of SMEs and late payment nowadays is a cause for disinvestment in research and development, and even bankruptcy. What does that mean for patients? It means that the know-how and expertise that comprise the core competence of each company is put in jeopardy even though there is demand for their services. This means that the products and services that those companies intend to develop for better treatment services will never be available because they cannot fund their business.

Read our news piece here.