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Value for money healthcare - Macedonia and Estonia lead

Latest EHCI report praises the countries' ‘imaginative and determined’ approach to healthcare access
Euro Health Consumer Index report 2016

When it comes to providing healthcare, high spending isn't necessarily a requirement, according to a new study.

An analysis of the healthcare systems run by EU member states reveals that two affluent countries - the Netherlands and Switzerland - are top of the tree when it comes to meeting all the criteria for good, consumer-friendly healthcare, says the 2016 Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI) report.

The EHCI assesses countries on six key measures: patient rights and information; accessibility/waiting; treatment outcomes; range and reach of services; prevention; and access to pharmaceuticals. The Netherlands and Switzerland came close to meeting all the criteria, ranking just ahead of Norway, Belgium, Iceland, Luxembourg, Germany and Finland.

Yet despite limited resources, FYR Macedonia shows what can be achieved with "imagination, determination and firm leadership," says Prof Arne Bjornberg, head of EHCI research. The small nation has practically eliminated waiting lists by introducing a transparent application for electronic booking of care appointments, claiming top marks in the accessibility category.

Timely access to healthcare services is a stumbling block for a number of EU countries and particularly occurs in countries with single-payer system with predominantly tax funding, such as the UK, Nordic countries, Italy and Spain.

FYR Macedonia's success on this measure "challenges many conventional attitudes in healthcare," says the report, which points to wide variations between countries in the cost efficiency of healthcare - in other words how well they are doing in getting "bang for the buck”.

Estonia and the Czech Republic provide very good healthcare in relation to the cost, with Finland and Portugal also rising up the rankings on this measure.

"These countries have a story to tell how to deliver affordable care," says the EHCI, which notes that this success is "free to copy!"

Meanwhile, prevention is still a largely unexploited resource for better health and care, but Norway, scores at the top of that discipline. The EHCI suggests the country might set the standard "to copy and implement around our continent”.

"Still too many countries stick to inefficient ways to fund and deliver care services. Copying the most successful European healthcare systems would save money to be invested in saving lives and improving performance among the many countries struggling to meet citizens' expectations," concludes the report.

Article by
Phil Taylor

30th January 2017

From: Healthcare

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