Scientific Foresight (STOA) By / June 2, 2017

Health systems for the future

Written by Gianluca Quaglio and Amr Dawood, The health care sector plays an important role in the overall EU economy,…

Written by Gianluca Quaglio and Amr Dawood,

The health care sector plays an important role in the overall EU economy, accounting for 8 % of the total European workforce and 8.5 % of EU GDP.

Health systems for the futureAll EU Member States face strong and growing economic pressures on their health and long-term care systems, driven by already high levels of public expenditure and debt in most countries, demographic pressures, and technological advances. They also face other challenges, such as the requirements of tackling chronic diseases, multi-morbidity, obesity and mental health issues. This leads to many countries considering innovative solutions to achieving better service and intervention design in the entire chain of care, including public health and prevention. EU Member States’ future ability to provide universal and equitable access to high quality care will depend on making health systems more resilient and more capable of coping with the challenges ahead, while remaining cost-effective and sustainable.

The objective of the STOA workshop on 8 June 2017 on ‘Health systems for the future’ is to offer an opportunity to explore what works best, and to boost innovation for building sustainable and resilient health system models. The workshop will be chaired by Paul Rübig (EPP, Austria), First STOA Vice-chair, and will be moderated by Professor Helmut Brand, Jean Monnet Professor of European Public Health and head of the Department of International Health at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

Twitter hashtag: #HealthSTOA


The workshop will address issues around the following major topics:

  • The need for a sustainable financing basis for the health sector, with pooling of funds and resource allocation. Some characteristics, such as a broad revenue base, efficient revenue collection and broad pooling of resources paired with redistribution, have the potential to deliver stable financing to ensure affordable, sustainable and equitable healthcare.
  • The need to improve general health sector governance. Governance involves a wide range of stakeholders that need to converge on implementing policies towards national or regional health objectives. Due to the multitude of interests involved, and the strong need of cohesive action, governance can represent a considerable obstacle.
  • The importance of improving primary healthcare services. Healthcare systems should move away from the traditional hospital-centric model, giving a stronger role to primary care in the mix between primary and secondary care. The role of primary care as a gatekeeping and referral system should be integrated across the whole spectrum of health service provision.
  • Improving data collection and information channels to support performance improvement. Generation and use of health systems data should be fostered, to allow for performance comparison across services, as well as health outcomes within and across countries. This will help to design appropriate policies and implement effective governance.
  • Improvement in lifestyles, and citizens’ participation in health promotion and disease prevention. Health promotion and disease prevention are key aspects of integrated care and should have a more central part in the health systems of the future. They have received increasing attention, but remain poorly funded.

The workshop will help create a dialogue between scientists, citizens and politicians on what issues emerge in Europe in terms of vulnerability of health systems, and what could be the policy context of supporting health system resilience in the EU.


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