The Covid-19 pandemic has unprecedentedly tested the capacity recovery and agility of the European health systems, but above all it has shown what their points are strong and weak.
As the fight against Covid-19 progresses, with the deployment of vaccines gaining pace, it is time to reflect on the future of health systems beyond the crisis, so that they come out of it strengthened, resilient and everytime more prepared to respond to future health emergencies.
The consultant PwC, with the support of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (Efpia), has produced the report Health systems after Covid-19. An overview of European health systems, drawn from extensive interviews and forums of discussion with different agents.
The report identifies four strategic issues to ensure the future of healthcare structures: working in prevention Y early attention, plan for the future, reap the fruits of digitization and focus on people and health outcomes.
These four strategies, he assures, have the potential to provoke the developments necessary to achieve significant improvements in health systems, increasing their efficiency and innovative approach to the new needs of patients and the general population.
The report highlights the common evil of healthcare systems of remaining focused in treatment and specialized care, without giving the importance they have to early action and prevention, which are clearly going to benefit from new diagnostic techniques based on biomarkers.
This transformation, says the report, must come hand in hand with the collaboration and joint work of stakeholders to ensure that innovation reaches patients as soon as possible.
Likewise, current healthcare structures often suffer from being watertight compartments, with the consequences that this entails for patients. «In the future, healthcare models must be built around from the patients, especially chronic, which will require not only a better integration of different disciplines and services, but also the inclusion of payment models innovators to take care pathways more efficient»Conclude the experts.
A financing that only looks at short-term objectives is the first thing that must be corrected to respond to the second of the recommendations. «Today the money is allocated and not inverted And while medical needs may increase unexpectedly, long-term trends can be studied in advance.
Monitor epidemiological behaviors, study risk factors, consider the epidemiological context and the so-called horizon scanning (knowing the health technologies that are to come) will allow future budgetary decisions to be made with an eye toward improving the population’s health outcomes, “they suggest.
In this sense, clinical research is essential to provide new treatments to patients “and should be considered a public health priority. During the Covid-19 crisis, clinical trials have been altered with the potential delay in the access to new drugs by the patient ». To mitigate these interruptions in the future, the report says, certain processes of clinical trials must be able to be executed remotely.
Third, to get the most out of digitization, European countries need to strengthen their investments in infrastructure and harmonize processes to promote the European Health Data Area.
Before the pandemic, only a few member states had measures in place for remote service delivery, and with the health crisis all countries had to act to promote telemedicine.
Finally, for the last of the objectives, PwC experts focus on training at all levels of health professionals and on the empowerment of patients so that they can make the best decisions about their disease, with special attention to the most vulnerable groups.
Efpia emphasizes that, once the current crisis is overcome, “we should not only rebuild our economies and make our societies recover, but we should also take the opportunity to implement an ambitious reform agenda for European health systems. Returning to the pre-pandemic status quo would not be an appropriate option.
In this sense, a report from International Financial Analysts (Afi) recently presented links both aspects, concluding that an investment plan and improvement of the health system in Spain, aimed at strengthening the quality and quantity of the labor factor and to promote reforms that reinforce prevention, efficiency and knowledge in health matters, would provide notable increases in the country’s GDP. This investment in the health sector would be, he adds, an effective instrument to redistribute income and bring about real equality of opportunities.
“The pharmaceutical industry has played a leading role in the fight against the pandemic, taking advantage of years of investment in therapeutic technology platforms and extensive experience in clinical development, as well as agile extensions to increase manufacturing capacity in Europe and around the world. Efpia’s general, Nathalie Moll-.
But we can also play an important role in rebuilding and improving our health systems to better address the challenges of tomorrow. Through closer partnerships with other actors in the healthcare sector, we can more effectively prevent disease, improve disease management through data and technology, and successfully develop innovations that can improve patient health. ‘