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Financing sustainable healthcare in Europe: are we getting our money’s value?

Health policy and finance experts to recommend urgent actions at Helsinki Conference to secure quality healthcare for EU citizens.


Alarming demographics – the scale of the challenge: by 2050, people 60+ estimated one-third of Europe’s population1 – 80+ expected to grow by 180%2

New report to highlight novel approaches for better health outcomes

Health policy and finance experts to recommend urgent actions at Helsinki Conference to secure quality healthcare for EU citizens

Pat Cox, Chairman of the European Movement and former President of the European Parliament, today at Finland’s Permanent Representation to the EU presented the initial findings of a new report on “Financing Sustainable Healthcare in Europe”.

Starting under the Luxembourg EU Presidency in 2005, leading healthcare, policy and finance experts including from the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, the European Health Management Association, the University of Toulouse, INSEAD and the London School of Economics in partnership with the Luxembourg Ministry of Health, the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (Sitra) and Pfizer have developed a range of recommendations to improve healthcare quality and financing in Europe and to secure better quality outcomes for EU citizens everywhere.

Quality returns on healthcare investments

“Europe’s demographic shift towards an older population has raised dramatically the challenge of cost and sustainability of good healthcare”, said Cox, who is heading the Steering Committee of this novel multi-partner expert group. “However, the true issue is not the rising cost of an older population. In fact, it is encouraging that in most EU countries today people lead longer and healthier lives than just a generation ago. The issue is that governments need to invest their available healthcare resources wisely to provide best quality returns for their patients and citizens.”

In several workstreams, the experts have analysed the current status and are providing cutting-edge recommendations for the financing of quality healthcare in the future Europe.

Some initial recommendations shared today evolve around these concepts:

  • To increase competition in healthcare provision, thereby enhancing quality, choice, efficiency and equity for EU citizens. The report calls for comprehensive, results-oriented healthcare in Europe, increased accountability and clear deliverables to enable a more efficient use of resources.
  • To provide consumers and suppliers of healthcare with the proper incentives to consume wisely and to produce efficiently. Making patients financially more responsible for their consumption of healthcare, while providing them with complete coverage for major illnesses, and introducing more competition between suppliers can sustain quality healthcare at lower cost.
  • To empower patients through increased access to quality information relevant to their health yet with appropriate checks and balances to protect them. And to support healthcare providers to properly manage patient empowerment, maximising its positive aspects and avoiding possible pitfalls.
  • To reward innovation and to reform health technology assessment (HTA) in Europe. Governments must balance innovation, medical progress and productivity gains with healthcare budgets and to do so effectively, HTA will need to be used more selectively. Significant improvements are needed on several fronts in order to maximise its potential to improve efficiency in resource allocation and to benefit patients.

From analysis to action

The full report putting forward a range of specific recommendations for member states and the EU to boost productivity and help member states solve the pressing health needs of their citizens today, will be presented at a European Conference in Helsinki in February.3

“All EU member states are being invited and we are excited to see interest already from Nordic and Benelux governments, where interesting reforms are under way currently”, said Hannu Hanhijärvi, Sitra’s Executive Director of Healthcare Programmes.

Beyond the Helsinki Conference Sitra, in collaboration with the other project partners, is developing national programmes to guide and support member states in their practical implementation of the report’s final recommendations.

“The Conference will mark the start of an implementation programme of workshops and other multi-partner initiatives to create novel and lasting healthcare finance solutions”, said Hanhijärvi.

Concluded Pat Cox: “Traditionally, member states have little control over whether their healthcare investments really produce best results in terms of quality for patients as well as cost-efficiency. Our recommendations will significantly enhance their capacity to invest the taxpayers’ money where it really counts – on the short and on the long term.”

Further information

Julie Valente
+32 2 743 66 50