Health systems must be accessible, effective, and resilient to change and future challenges. All face similar pressures to evolve, modernise and adapt to an ever changing environment, which can in turn have a negative effect on health spending. These pressures can be the result of:
- Demographic change (an ageing population)
- Changing epidemiology (the rising burden of chronic disease)
- New technologies (plus their interoperability and standardisation)
- Patient empowerment
- Workforce shortages
- Uneven distribution of health professionals
- Health inequalities.
In 2014 the EU agenda on health systems was launched in order to develop EU coordinated actions to improve their effectiveness, accessibility and resilience.
EU agenda for effective, accessible and resilient health systems
|Health systems performance assessment||Planning of EU health workforce||Health Technology Assessment|
|Patient safety and quality of care||Cost-effective use of medicines||Health information system|
|Integration of care||Optimal implementation of Directive 2011/24||eHealth|
Sustainability of health systems
The links between public health, economic prosperity, and social cohesion are well known, along with concerns about the long-term sustainability of public finances. Addressing these through efficiency gains, while maintaining access to quality healthcare, is central to the policy options presented in the:
- EU agenda on health systems
- 2019 update of the Joint European Commission-Economic Policy Committee Report on Health Care and Fiscal Sustainability
- State of Health in the EU Companion report.
Health in the European Semester
The effectiveness, accessibility, and resilience of national health systems is analysed throughout the cycles of the European Semester - a framework used for the coordination of economic policies across the EU, since 2014. The importance of health is generally underlined in the Annual Growth Surveys (AGS) issued by the Commission at the start of each European Semester.
The Commission aims to support EU countries through this exercise by providing analysis and forecasts, and suggesting concrete action that would improve reforms. It also offers financial support to enhance the capacity of national institutions to implement the reforms through a variety of funding instruments.
The Semester process encourages and supports national structural reforms of health systems. These reforms and measures are analysed and identified in the Semester's Country reports and the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs). More than on third of EU countries have received health system related recommendations since the start of the Semester, with progress monitored by the Commission. Given that these address complex health reforms, they need to be assessed in the long term.