Sustainabilty of European health systems

  • Posted on 12.05.2009

Sustainabilty of European health systems


John Wilkinson

Former Chief Executive of Eucomed


It takes very little to persuade me to visit Prague. It is one of the gems of Europe. On this occasion, though, I had little opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of the city as I arrived at 1.00 am and spent the day in an ornate, but windowless, ballroom in a classic early 20th century hotel.

The reason for my short visit was to participate in a data packed first day on sustainabilty of European health systems. Introduced by Androulla Vassiliou, the EU health commissioner, there was much talk of the need to avoid wholesale cost-cutting although evidence from previous recessions suggested that ,while short term measures were unlikely, in the medium term, health expenditure would be one of several areas hit by cuts in public spending.

There was universal concensus that innovation was going to be central to addressing the productivity issues that challenge all European healthcare systems. Your correspondent, however, remains sceptical about the ability of policy makers to press ahead with innovation in lean times rather than revert to the usual short-term cost-saving measures. My optmistic side hopes that health systems really do bite the innovation bullet for that is surely the only sustainable way of dealing with the challenges of delivering better services at lower total cost. Medical technology is a key enabler in making this possible.

John Wilkinson, Chief Executive, Eucomed

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