Why it matters

Cross-border healthcare directive

The European directive on patient’s rights in cross-border healthcare has been agreed at EU level, and will be coming into force across Europe in the coming years.  This is not just a new legal framework; it is also an opportunity for cooperation across borders – for example, through direct cross-border cooperation or through participating in European reference networks. Through economies of scale and pooling of expertise, this can help to make healthcare more efficient and produce better outcomes for patients. Health is also increasingly a potential area for investment from European funds for infrastructure, human capital, research, development and deployment of new technologies.

Use good practice from elsewhere
in Europe

More generally, looking elsewhere across Europe provides concrete case studies to use in improving services. From the greatest burdens such as cancer to rare diseases such as cystic fibrosis, the variations in outcomes across the EU are startling.

Paying for ageing

Yet this also illustrates the potential for improvement, just from making better use of existing knowledge. Given the short-term pressures on budgets from the financial crisis, and long-term pressures from demographic ageing, making best use of such good practice will be essential for all health systems in Europe.