EU-25 health care systems poor at measuring what they do

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The EU public health care systems should improve their capacities to measure performance in order to provide users with comparable data, according to the Euro Health Consumer Index 2006.

“The public health care systems are poor at measuring what they do and how well. Their measuring capacities are very weak, especially compared to the United States,” said the Euro Health Consumer Index 2006 project manager, Arne Björnberg. “We think it is important that patients have access to comparable information on the EU’s health care systems,” he continued, presenting the results of a survey ranking EU-25’s health care systems from the ‘customer point of view’. 

The 2006 Index, drawn together from publicly available statistics and from soft data (interviews) by a private Swedish company, Health Consumer Powerhouse, lists France‘s public health care as the most user-friendly, “with a technically efficient and generously providing healthcare system”. The Dutch, German and Swedish systems closely follow the French one.

However, “from the consumer point of view, there is room for large improvements in every healthcare system,” said Johan Hjertqvist, President of Health Consumer Powerhouse. To improve the user friendliness, the Index gives country-specific recommendations for change for each of the EU-25.

The overall ranking has been compiled from 28 indicators divided into five categories, each of which have their ‘winners’:

  • Patient rights and information 
  • Waiting time for treatment
  • Outcomes (medical quality)
  • Generosity of the healthcare system (what care is reimbursed)
  • Pharmaceuticals (access to new treatments, speed of deployment of new drugs)

The data used to compile the index is not taken from the same year for all the countries, but varies from 1997 to 2004, somewhat favouring the countries with the most recent data. In addition, the five categories have been attributed a subjective co-efficient. For example, the indicators in the waiting time category count twice as much as the indicators from the generosity of the healthcare system category.

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