Perhaps at no other time in the last decade has the need to extract the best potential benefits out of stretched resources been so urgent. With public sector budgets across Europe being stringently monitored and often curtailed, health care is no exception. In fact, in quite a few countries, and especially those subject to international loan agreements, the health sector is one of the areas targeted not only for more immediate cost savings but also for longer-term re-structuring and efficiency gains.
This topic was the focus of issue 18.3 of Eurohealth, which was published by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (in which LSE Health is a partner).
In this issue’s Eurohealth Observer section Peter Smith outlines the possibilities and challenges of obtaining a workable model of efficiency in health care. He takes care to highlight the difference between expenditure control, which focuses only on health system monetary inputs, and efficiency, which is concerned with deriving the best possible desired outputs from a given set of inputs. The article also highlights five areas in the health sector where there is the most promising scope for efficiency improvements. The following two articles focus on two countries with very different economic contexts but which have both embarked on health care reforms that include the goal of improving efficiency. Ilaria Mosca looks at the impact of policies moving the Netherlands gradually towards a system of regulated competition since 2006, while Pedro Pita Barros discusses Portugal’s implementation of a wide menu of health care reforms as part of its financial rescue programme. The final article in this section provides a European-wide perspective and outlines some of the ways in which the European Commission operates processes aimed at helping countries to achieve efficiency and sustainability in their health sectors.
The first article in the Eurohealth International section explores the potential implications of the EU Cross-Border Care Directive using a simulation exercise. Baeten and Jelfs discuss the responses of different stakeholder groups from six countries. Next, Saltman and colleagues identify the current policy shift in four Nordic countries. These countries, which are moving towards a consolidation of national decision-making authority, can provide lessons for other decentralised health care systems.
In our Eurohealth Systems and Policies section Theodorou and Cylus delineate the challenges for Cyprus’s new health system that is planned for implementation in 2016. While for Wales, the Dignity in Care Programme established in 2007, has been developed and delivered. This programme centring on person-centred holistic care can provide insights on how to approach care for older people in other regions.
The Eurohealth Monitor section draws attention to two new publications on intersectoral governance for Health in All policies and on health policy responses to the financial crisis in Europe, while news keeps you up to date on health policy developments. We hope that you enjoy this issue and we welcome your comments and feedback to the editors.
Read the full issue: Eurohealth Vol 18 No.3 : Efficiency and Health Care (PDF)