With summer almost over, EU election season is just around the corner. Looking ahead, what are the key issues that will dominate the health policy agenda in the upcoming legislative period? What challenges will stakeholders face from 2019 to 2024 and, more importantly, how will they overcome them to ensure better care for EU citizens? Incisive Health has identified the 5 hot topics that will drive the EU health agenda during the next term.

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Challenge #1: Unleashing the potential of digital health

Digital technology is transforming every area of society, but in health, progress has been frustratingly slow. Our polling shows the potential of digitalization of health and care, but also the barriers that must be overcome in order to translate this potential into reality. Notably, more than half of people cite data reliability concerns, data protection concerns and a lack of health system endorsement as the reasons why they do not use health apps. Incisive Health is at the forefront of the digital health debate and well placed to help stakeholders engage in this space.

Challenge #2: Effectively communicating the value of vaccines

Given that vaccines are an integral part of communicable disease control and public health worldwide, how can we drive recognition of the value of vaccines? How can we ensure that Europe maintains leadership in immunisation by not only achieving but exceeding the WHO targets of at least 95% in measles vaccination coverage and 80% for all vaccines by 2020? Unpicking the complexity of vaccine hesitancy, tackling the lack of capacity to respond to public concerns and addressing the current absence in political leadership are key areas of concern where Incisive Health is helping stakeholders make progress.

Challenge #3: Putting patients in the driving seat

“Doctor knows best” has been accepted for centuries, but patients are often the ones who fully understand their individual needs and response to treatment. Currently, however, patients across Europe report different levels of involvement in doctors’ decisions, with 25% of EU citizens not involved in clinical decisions on their care and treatment. Putting patients at the center means rethinking the dynamics of doctor-patient relationships. This requires time and resources – to train healthcare teams to understand patients’ personal needs and to train patients to understand better their own roles and responsibilities. At the heart of patient-centered healthcare is joint learning and exploring new avenues for care, including in the digital space. Incisive Health is committed to working closely with patient groups, healthcare professionals and the broader stakeholder community to drive this shift for the benefit of patients across Europe.

Challenge #4: Recognising the value of innovation

Innovation in medicine has played a key part in the increase in life expectancy we have witnessed over the past 50 years. Pharmaceutical innovation brings broader benefits to society such as releasing healthcare resources and increasing work force productivity. Ultimately, innovation is about getting better products to improve care and help patients. How to best measure the value of innovation in order to secure the best treatments for patients is therefore a key concern. As the proposal on EU Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is debated, it will be important for all HTA processes to reflect the complexities of valuing innovation without putting in place unnecessary barriers to patient access. Incisive Health is ready to work with stakeholders, enabling Europe to consolidate its position as a leader in health innovation.

Challenge #5: Exposing and overcoming the many faces of health inequality

To overcome inequalities at a population level, we need to tailor healthcare to the needs of individuals. Characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, age, disability, poverty and sexual orientation all play a role in determining a person’s experience of health, as well as their outcomes, but are too often neglected in studies of health inequalities. With 21/28 Member States not having an explicit national policy on health inequalities, there is a need for Europe-wide action. Incisive Health wants to bring different groups together to focus on how we tackle inequalities in health, improving the quality of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for everyone in Europe.

You can download our infographic by clicking here or on the images below.