An expert panel report calling for more competition to improve efficiency and transparency of healthcare systems has received a cautious welcome from stakeholders.
Financing Sustainable Healthcare in Europe: New Approaches for New Outcomes, drafted by various public health experts, was handed to Commissioner Günter Verheugen on 13 February 2007.
The report’s four separate studies on topics that affect the sustainability of healthcare financing set out a number of policy options for the delivery of continuous healthcare improvement “through increased efficiency, enhanced choice and innovative models of healthcare financing”.
The report calls in particular for increased transparency and openness in financing healthcare in Europe. “It is shocking how little hard evidence there is across Europe about where the money goes,” said Pat Cox, chairman of the project’s steering committee.
To overcome this situation, the report states that market price-based mechanism is likely to be “the most efficient route” to introduce necessary information about the use of healthcare resources in appropriate incentives for patients, governments and healthcare systems in Europe. “We should start to explore the power of the market as a way of achieving much better value for money,” added Cox.
A big part of the report is dedicated to health-technology assessment (HTA). Health technology means any method used to promote health or prevent and treat disease, such as drugs, equipment, procedures and screening programmes.
The conclusions of this section highlight the link between innovation and the needs of the healthcare system. “Products that provide the most value for investment must be identified and supported. Manufacturers of such products must be rewarded with appropriate reimbursement and pricing schemes.”
The authors also call for further clarification of the scope of drug reimbursements and swift approval and reimbursement of new medicines.