Assessing integrated care in Europe

The EU’s expert group on health systems’ performance assessment has produced a report ‘Blocks: tools and methodologies to assess integrated care in Europe’.

They did so for two main reasons, firstly, at this stage of technological development and with current demographic patterns, we cannot rely on homogeneous, top-down healthcare solutions. Secondly, every patient is different and we need to develop patient-centred care tailored to individual needs and which allows them to be involved in their own care.
They have measured both the degree of integration of care and the performance of integrated care systems.
To download the report on Integrated care from the ec.europa.eu website

Effective cancer control saves lives, money and time

A new Guide available online gives recommendations on how to boost cancer control in Europe. The Guide is the result of a three-year effort by top experts in 25 countries and 126 partner organisations. They have been working together in an EU co-funded joint action, known as Cancon (officially titled European Guide on Quality Improvement in Comprehensive Cancer Control Guide).

The Guide’s authors stress that besides saving money and time, effective cancer control increases quality of life. Currently some 2.6 million people in Europe are diagnosed with cancer annually. But more and more cancer patients are overcoming the disease. Therefore greater attention needs to be given to access to care, early diagnosis, rehabilitation, and survivorship.

For more information and to download the Guide to effective cancer control from the cancercontrol.eu website

Obesity and the public purse

This is the first study to estimate the annual savings that overweight and obese people bring UK taxpayers by dying prematurely (in 2016 prices). Ignoring these savings leads to substantial overestimation of the true burden of elevated body mass index (BMI) to the taxpayer. The study’s estimates of the present value of pension, healthcare and other benefit payments avoided through early, BMI-caused deaths (net of foregone tax payments) is £3.6 billion per annum.

This report, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, analyses the cost of obesity to public services and estimates that the net cost is less than £2.5 billion a year or 0.3 per cent of government spending. The report argues that the economic burden of obesity has been exaggerated and that the health care costs of an ageing population should be the focus for public service efficiency savings.

To read the full report on the true costs of obesity on the dodsmonitoring.com website

The cost of unsafe care

Given the growing importance of patient safety for both health systems and patients, it is necessary to assess the impact of patient safety efforts and to develop priorities for action.

In addition to increased cost of healthcare services, unsafe care also leads to loss of trust in health care systems by the public and diminished satisfaction by patients and health care professionals.

Patient safety programmes may prevent and reduce such adverse events which ultimately results in less harm inflicted to patients. This new study ‘Costs of unsafe care and cost-effectiveness of patient safety programmes‘ aims to:
  • provide a comprehensive picture of the financial impact of poor patient safety, including poor prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections, on European Union’s health systems;
  • identify cost-effective patient safety programmes implemented in the EU/EEA Member States and develop an analysis identifying their success factors;
  • assess cost-effectiveness and efficiency of investment in patient safety programmes.
To download the full report on the costs of unsafe care from the ec.europa.eu website

Tackling Wasteful Spending on Health

Following a brief pause after the economic crisis, health expenditure is rising again in most OECD countries, yet a considerable part of this health expenditure makes little or no contribution to improving people’s health. In some cases, it even results in worse health outcomes. S0, as this report points out, countries could potentially spend significantly less on health care with no impact on health system performance, or on health outcomes. The report ‘Tackling Wasteful Spending on Health‘ reviews strategies put in place by countries to limit ineffective spending and waste.

To find out more about the report on Tackling Wasteful Spending on Health on the keepeek.com website

New approach needed to tackle rising drug prices

The proliferation of high-cost medicines and rising drug prices are increasing pressures on public health spending and calling into question the pharmaceutical industry’s pricing strategies.

According to a new report from the OECD, ‘ New Health Technologies: Managing Access, Value and Sustainability’, pharmaceutical spending is increasingly skewed towards high-cost products. The launch prices of drugs for cancer and rare diseases are rising, sometimes without a commensurate increase in health benefits for patients. For instance in the United States the launch price of oncology drugs per life-year gained has been multiplied by four in less than 20 years and now exceeds $200,000.

For more information on Pharmaceutical Price Rises on the oecd.org website

UK researchers are top recipients of EU funding

UK-based researchers are top of the league in the European Research Council’s (ERC) latest round of mid-career consolidator grants. 58 researchers working in UK institutions will each receive up to €2 million (£1.7m) to set up their own teams and pursue ground-breaking ideas. Germany is in second place with 48 successful applicants.

The funding has been awarded for a wide range of disciplines from physical sciences and engineering to life sciences, social sciences and humanities.

An independent study released in July 2016 showed that over 70% of EU-funded ERC projects have made scientific breakthroughs or major advances.

More information about EU research funding on the ec.europa.eu website

Putting a value on improvements to health

Ensuring global access to proven interventions – including vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics, as well as prioritising the development of new health technologies – requires an assessment of whether the improvement in health outcomes they offer exceeds the improvement in health that would have been possible if the resources required had, instead, been made available for other health care activities. So some assessment of these health opportunity costs is required if the best use is to be made of the resources available for health care, existing technologies and the development of new ones.

Evidence of the expected costs and health effects of making an intervention available to specific populations in
particular settings and health care systems are often summarised as cost per Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY) ratios (Salomon et al, 2012). These provide a useful summary of how much additional resource is required to achieve a measured improvement in health (the additional cost required to avert one DALY), or how much health is delivered for an amount of additional resource (the DALYs averted per $1,000).
Download the full briefing paper on Health Opportunity Costs on the york.ac.uk website

Effective, accessible and resilient health systems

The European Commission’s Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health has just been renewed for three more years, running until May 2019. The aim of the Panel is to provide the Commission with independent advice from a variety of sectors  to support modern, responsive and sustainable health systems.

The Panel’s new members cover a wide range of disciplines, including human medicine, public health and economics. It will support the Commission’s efforts to provide evidence-based policy-making using both country-specific and cross-country knowledge and will support the agenda on effective, accessible and resilient health systems.

More information about the Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health on the ec.europa.eu website.

Improving access to medicines

A new WHO report provides insight into how countries in the WHO European Region can improve access and reduce medicine prices through strategic and well-planned procurement processes. It also addresses collaboration within and across countries to improve availability of affordable medicines for patients in the Region.

Countries in the Region have varying capacity and negotiating power when it comes to procuring new medicines and health technologies. As a result, the prices that a given country is asked to pay for its medicines may be disproportionally high and incompatible with its purchasing power.

A study cited in the report illustrates this problem. It compares ex-factory prices of 2 new medicines used to treat hepatitis C – sofosbuvir and ledipasvir-sofosbuvir – and reveals that the cost of treating the entire hepatitis C-infected population in each of the 30 countries examined would range from 10.5% of the total pharmaceutical expenditure in the Netherlands to 190.5% in Poland. The price of a single course of sofosbuvir was equivalent to 5.28 years of the average annual wage in Turkey. The high price of ledipasvir-sofosbuvir in England led the National Health Service to restrict treatment to the most severely ill patients.

Download the report on Strategic Purchasing of Medicines from the euro.who.int website