Rethinking European health care

The European Health Parliament is a platform of 55 young professionals from across Europe, which aims to deliver high-level policy-oriented recommendations to positively influence and change the future of healthcare in Europe. It has just published ‘Rethinking European Healthcare: recommendations by the next generation’.

It covers proposals on:

  • antimicrobial resistance
  • climate change and health
  • digital skills for health professionals
  • migration and health
  • prevention and self-care

For more information and to download the full report or the executive summary of Rethinking European Healthcare from the healthparliament.eu website

Nurses and midwives strengthen health systems

In the WHO European Region, nurses and midwives – an estimated total of 7.3 million – make up the majority of health care professionals, delivering health services to people of all ages. A recently published compendium of good practices in nursing and midwifery illustrates the fundamental importance of these health care professionals to public health and well-being. Its 55 case studies from 18 countries provide examples of how nurses and midwives enhance health.

While the case studies illustrate good practices and innovations, the compendium reveals that they are not always well documented, rigorously evaluated, scaled up or shared within or among countries in the Region. Consequently, they have limited influence in decision-making at national or local level, and the contribution of nurses and midwives to research and collecting evidence and in the design of services and technology is also limited.

To read more about the role of nurses and midwives in health systems on the euro.who.int website.

The changing role of nursing

The latest issue of the Eurohealth Observer, which is produced by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, includes a range of articles on nursing. These cover the changing role of nursing, the state of nursing in the European Union, nurse migration, EU accession and nursing, and whether there should be an EU framework for nurse education.

To download the Eurohealth Observer from the euro.who.int website

European Workforce for Health

A number of EU initiatives and legislation underline the importance of regularly updating and improving the skills of health professionals through “Continuous Professional Development (CPD)” to improve quality of care and patient safety. Member States have however very diverse legislations and practices in the field.

The expert group on European health workforce, with the European Commission, organised a workshop to share and discuss national experiences on CPD systems and approaches to improve quality of care and patient safety. This workshop brought together  60 experts in the area of continuous professional development, including representatives of regulatory, professional and educational bodies and it discussed ways to optimise CPD of health professionals to improve quality of care and patient safety.

To download the workshop report from the ec.europa.eu website

 

E-health in practice

A new report gives an overview of the developments and benefits of using e-health, with 29 cases from across the European Region.

E-health is a broad concept, defined as the use of electronic means to deliver information, resources and services related to health. Many terms are included in e-health, such as:

  • electronic health records;
  • mobile health, or m-health;
  • telehealth or telemedicine;
  • health-related e-learning;
  • social media for health;
  • health data analysis and “big data”

The following examples illustrate different uses of e-health:

Improving appointment systems in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Before 2011, patients in Skopje experienced long waiting times to see doctors and have diagnostic tests. The MojTermin (My Time) system made it possible to book appointments online and receive text message reminders and for decision-makers to access a live dashboard to see referrals, prescriptions and requests in real time. The system was so successful in reducing waiting times that it rapidly expanded from a pilot project to become a key part of public and private health care in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

First nationwide electronic health record system 

Estonia launched its electronic record system in 2008, becoming the first country in the world to fully implement such a system nationwide, with records covering an individual’s medical history from birth to death. Information on the health of 1.35 million people (98% of the population) is now in the system, and e-prescriptions account for 98% of all prescriptions issued. The electronic record system forms part of the broader eEstonia electronic public services, which, in addition to e-health, include e-taxes, e-schools, e-commercial registries and e-elections.

Training medical students in using a multilingual, virtual, simulated patient

11 countries in the Region have created a multilingual, virtual, simulated “patient” that responds and behaves in the same way as a real patient being seen in a primary care setting. It can be used by medical students in different countries with different languages. The system simulates a clinical interview with a virtual patient presenting with symptoms of one or a combination of illnesses.

To read the report From Innovation to Implementation on the who.int website

eHealth guidelines for nurses

The EU-funded Ens4Care project has developed five guidelines for European nurses and social workers on how to use eHealth for:

  • promoting a healthy lifestyle and prevention
  • clinical practice
  • skills development for advanced roles
  • integrated care
  • nurse ePrescribing.

The ENS4Care network brought together 24 partners from all over Europe, with a mix of professional associations in nursing and social care, nursing regulators and unions, informal carers, patients, researchers and research communities, civil society representatives and industry. They collected a total of 122 existing good practices of using eHealth tools by nurses and social workers at both national and regional levels.

To find out more about the eHealth Guidelines and the project itself, on the ens4care.eu website

Improving health care across Europe

How can Europe ensure good quality healthcare for all people and counter the increasing pressures brought about by under-investment and lack of cooperation between different healthcare systems? This was the question asked at a European Public Service Union meeting attended by around 60 representatives from 25 countries.

Many participants mentioned difficulties with ensuring safe and adequate staffing levels in healthcare. The problems demand an approach that goes beyond looking at individual workplaces and addresses broader questions of the supply (and demand) for healthcare workers, investment in training and funding in general.

Trends regarding the privatisation, marketisation and commercialisation of health (and social) care run counter to the need to increase funding in public systems and to step up coordination and cooperation of polices across Europe to ensure universal access to high quality healthcare. Well-funded and democratically controlled healthcare systems are extremely efficient when compared to these where market forces are allowed to play too big a role.

To read the full report on strengthening public healthcare systems on the epsu.org website.

Finding enough health professionals for the future

According to the latest WHO/Europe core health indicators for 2015, the number of physicians and nurses in the Region may not be sufficient to cover the future health needs of an ageing population, despite an increase of around 10% in the past 10 years. The report “Core health indicators in the WHO European Region 2015, special focus: human resources for health” also points out that physicians in Europe are getting older: almost every third physician is over 55 years old. In addition, the skills-mix of health professionals needs to change: for example, the proportion of general practitioners (GPs) among all physicians should be increased.

For more information about the report, on the euro.who.int website

European Professional Card

In January 2016 nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists are amongst the many professions able to apply for the European Professional Card which will confirm their professional status when applying for work in another country.

Public administrations need to be aware of this as, if an application doesn’t get a response within the deadline specified, the recognition is assumed…so being slow to respond to applications will result in people perhaps being given professional recognition who don’t warrant it. This has implications for the countries in which these people then apply for work….

The European Institute of Public Administration is holding a seminar in December in Barcelona. For more information about this topic, click here on www.eipa.eu