Hans Martens

 

Hans Martens was born in Denmark, and he studied Political Science at Aarhus University, specialising in EU affairs and in public administration, and went on to become Associate Professor in international political and economic relations. He joined the European Policy Centre (EPC), a leading Brussels think tank, as Chief Executive in 2002, and retired from that post in September 2013. He is now Senior Advisor to EPC and to the Danish think tank Europa. He chairs CHES (Coalition for Health, Ethics and Society), the health policy programme of the EPC. Besides he works as an independent consultant on a number of projects relating to health and energy policies at European level, including on the wider economics of health and care, outcomes measurements, health systems comparisons and evaluation, public and private cooperation in health care, value of diagnostic information – including digitalisation – and reform of health systems to focus on prevention and health promotion. He has also been leading on a project on digitalisation in Europe, including on eHealth, with the think tank Europa, building on previous experience on work on the digital Single Market during his years at EPC. 

Alongside his business career, Hans Martens has been visiting Professor at the Universities of Aarhus and Copenhagen and he is a regular lecturer at BusinessSchools and Universities in Europe and in the USA, including VCU – VirginiaCommonwealthUniversity.  He has extensive experience of curriculum design and planning and lectures regularly on the international circuit. He speaks five languages: Danish, English, French, German and Spanish. 

He is the author of a number of books and articles on Public Administration, European integration, monetary affairs, energy and climate policies and the demographic developments in Europe.

This is the second in a two-part series. Read part one . The link between clinical and social aspects of COVID-19 raises the question of what type of data are needed to manage the COVID-19 surge and better absorb shocks that may be caused by future pandemics. We believe clinical patient level data are essential given the different ways the disease has developed for different patients. There are many questions up in the air that need to be answered in order to prepare better for future pandemics and to treat the disease. If testing and analysis is done in a harmonised way across the EU countries, data from different tests can be compared. And if these data are combined with demographic, social, health and other relevant characteristics it will bring additional value by understanding the framework for the disease and perhaps also indicate a more efficient treatment through personalisation. This will require a number of things: Developing testing in a diagnostic context linking patient data, such as registries, to additional sources of data to be able to follow up the development of the disease in the medium- and long-terms. Establishing a common framework that allows for meaningful comparison across borders – from health system to health system. If it cannot be done quickly enough at a global level, it should be possible to do it at a European level. Establishing common ways of interpreting data (preferably through a harmonised approach at EU level) in order to maximize the value of the treatment for the patient, for the health systems, and for our societies. A communication published by the European Commission in July identified EU-wide sharing of clinical, epidemiological, virological data through an EU COVID-19 data sharing platform as one of action areas to ensure the short-term EU health preparedness for...
The power of diagnostics information ( VODI ) to public health and society was a topic of keen interest even before the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic offers us fresh lessons on how health systems can harness this value. Many of us will recall one of the earliest recommendation from the Director General of the WHO during the pandemic: test, test, test . In our view, testing played a key role in healthcare systems’ response to COVID-19. From the earliest weeks of the pandemic, Germany and South Korea stood out in managing outbreaks relatively well. Besides having very resilient healthcare systems with high laboratory capacity and trained staff, they were also doing better than most countries because they had the resources to test widely at an early stage. As a consequence they have also suffered lower case fatality rates than comparable countries. Despite the rapid development of diagnostic tests, most countries lacked the necessary personnel, equipment, and infrastructures to be able to cover the needs caused by the surge of severe COVID-19 cases. Yet, the wide deployment of diagnostics has helped to control this surge in countries which supported appropriate reimbursement policies for diagnostics and antibody tests. Social measures, including the design of lockdown protocols and the progressive return to the “new normal”, have been informed by the effectiveness with which diagnostics were deployed. Border policy has been linked to the availability of, and free access to, rapid testing at airports. This has been facilitated in some high-income countries such as Denmark, and in some low- and middle-income countries, such as Senegal. So, how can we better harness the value of diagnostic information for more personalized care in future? The urgency of controlling the surge of COVID-19 cases has made it necessary to prioritise the immediate consequences of the tests, those...
Prevention is better than cure. It’s cheaper too. In fact, preventing future illnesses and preventing complications from existing conditions, are vital to the future sustainability of health systems. For a vaccine that prevents measles, or a medication that prevents a heart attack, the value is obvious. But what about the value of learning that you are at risk of heart attack? This information could trigger changes in behaviour and lifestyle that reduce the chances of hospitalisation or death. What about the value of regularly monitoring your blood glucose if you have diabetes? This could prevent profoundly negative (not to mention expensive) complications such as blindness, amputation or stroke. And what about the value patients and society gets when a clinician knows whether to use an antibiotic – and which one to choose. Not only does this enhance the patient’s chances of a timely recovery, it supports responsible use of antimicrobials and makes better use of resources. Investing in prevention With many conditions, earlier intervention improves patient outcomes and spares them – and the health system – avoidable illnesses and treatments. The obvious example is cancer: effective treatment of early stage cancers can dramatically improve prognosis. That’s why screening is so important. Screening is also an example of how population-based prevention programmes can deliver for citizens across the social spectrum, regardless of income or health literacy which can otherwise exacerbate inequality of outcome. I realise this is not breaking news. Yet less than 3% of health budgets is devoted to prevention. The rest goes on cure and care. I sometimes think we should refer to healthcare as ‘sick care’ – a system focused on ‘healthcare’ would dedicate itself to preserving good health for as long as possible. As rates of diabetes, heart failure and other chronic conditions continues to rise, and...
This blog is part 7 of a series on MEAT Value-Based Procurement, an initiative that advocates a shift from price-based procurement towards value-based procurement in healthcare. It does so by defining a Best Price Quality Ratio method within the Most Economically Advantageous Tendering (MEAT) framework put forward in the European Public Procurement directive. Read part 1 , part 2 , part 3 , part 4 and part 5 and part 6 . Our health systems need reforms to maintain universal health coverage and, given the economic and demographic pressures we face, Europe cannot afford its citizens to be in poor health. This will require new thinking about the economic value of health for individuals, families and society (health as an economic good) in addition to the economics (the cost-efficiency) of healthcare systems. Instead of focusing on the costs of healthcare, we must consider what is delivered. The full value of investing in health and quality healthcare can be realised by focussing on health outcomes complemented and enhanced by the economic value offered by being in good health and having cost-efficient health systems. This value-oriented approach can be implemented when purchasing health technologies. It is already seen in some modern procurement procedures resulting in the highest economic value in addition to best health outcomes. These most economically-advantageous tenders (MEAT) can deliver optimal value to society. To make informed decisions about what constitutes value, we need to consider the full value that health investments bring – not just the outcomes for patients or for hospitals, but the full impact these interventions can bring to society by keeping people in good health. Defining value The real economic consequences of being in a state of ill-health are not solely related to the direct costs of health and care, but include wider socio-economic consequences and...