Building resilient healthcare systems in Europe

  • 3 minutes
  • Posted on 14.03.2024

Building resilient healthcare systems in Europe

Oliver Bisazza

Chief Executive Officer, MedTech Europe

MedTech Europe Manifesto: The EU has a key role in preparing for future challenges, from AMR and climate to global trade distortions and supply chain disruption 

European health systems have faced severe stress tests in recent years, revealing some of the strengths and weaknesses of our services and institutions. Learning from this experience will be essential to enhancing resilience to future shocks.

Environmental disruptions are expected to impact the well-being and economic health of the population. This may add to pressure on hospitals and clinics by making people ill, who are already straining under workforce shortages, and accelerating the AMR crisis. Additionally, barriers to global trade and supply chain disruptions can make it difficult for patients to access technologies – and thus care. Ensuring that regulatory systems and trade policy are fit for the future is an urgent task – not something that can be done in the heat of a future crisis.

We may not always know the precise nature of the challenges that lie ahead or when they will strike, but policymakers, industry and other stakeholders can make healthcare more resilient by focusing on prevention, healthcare workforce retention, and timely access to care, while safeguarding global trade.

What can the EU do?

Now is the right moment to consider the future of resilient healthcare, with campaigning underway ahead of June’s European Parliament elections. This marks the beginning of a new chapter in the EU political cycle.

As we look ahead to the 2024-2029 period, we are exploring the key challenges facing people in Europe and how we can tackle them together. We have set out our vision in a concise MedTech Europe Manifesto, entitled Empowering Patients, Inspiring Innovation.

The Manifesto sets out concrete steps that policymakers can take to ensure greater resilience. We urge decision-makers to do all in their power to address the diminishing capacity of Europe’s health workforce. One of the elements of such a care strategy should include supporting health workers with customised technologies, digital solutions, robotisation and automation.

At the same time, it remains crucial that policymakers recognise and increase European competitiveness as well as autonomy in the supply of critical materials and components. Strong and internationally competitive European businesses can better weather shocks, sustainably providing crucial medical technologies even in times of crisis.

The EU is a powerful actor in global trade, helping to bring medical technologies to patients around the world and ensuring a level playing field for European industry. That is why we are calling for effective measures to shield European healthcare systems’ medical technology suppliers against international trade distortions and supply chain disruptions.

Empowering Patients, Inspiring Innovation

A fit-for-purpose regulatory framework

To be ready for whatever the future brings, Europe also needs a robust, transparent, predictable and sustainable regulatory framework. We must make the Medical Devices Regulation and the In Vitro Diagnostics Regulation work so that our system is efficient and ready to adapt as needed to the challenges of tomorrow.

We also urge policymakers to adjust the EU’s regulatory framework to embrace the full potential of Real-World Evidence to improve patient care while guaranteeing the safety and usability of medical devices. 

In tandem with action on regulatory and trade issues, the lessons of recent years must be learned. Europe’s crisis preparedness and response can be boosted now by developing appropriate and well-coordinated mechanisms for joint procurement of medical countermeasures.

As we prepare for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, we should be encouraged by Europe’s progress to date and the many positive aspects of the pandemic response. At the same time, this is a moment to renew the EU’s commitment to building robust and resilient systems that can meet the needs of tomorrow’s patients, while strengthening Europe’s industrial base for medical technologies.

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