March 31, 2009
On one of those beautiful clear Spring mornings here in Brussels, it was a rare pleasure to head out early for breakfast with the Health Consumer Powerhouse. Housed in a beautiful high ceilinged and gilt embellished office near De Brouckere, Health Consumer Powerhouse is a champion for European consumers of healthcare (you and me) and produces an array of comparative data on health systems around Europe.
Today, they launched this year’s edition of the Euro Patient Empowerment Index which uses a series of measures to establish just how much influence an individual patient can have on their choice of care. Top of the list is Denmark and the margin would have been much larger if the Danish Government had not suspended legislation empowering Danish citizens with almost total freedom in sourcing care. Notably, countries with systems where the majority of provision is via national health services funded out of general taxation appeared well down the table. These included UK, Spain and Italy. Almost universal was a shortage of information to help patients exercise choice (Denmark the notable exception).
The information issue is one that is currently being hotly debated here in Brussels as part of the so-called ‘Pharma-package’ which is in legislative process at the moment. There seems a good deal of agreement that patients should be able to access information on treatment choices and those therapies that they are receiving but there are very few reliable sources of that information. Choice without information is a hollow offering and our sector needs to watch very carefully how things are developing. With increasing numbers of therapeutic options for patients, it is becoming more imperative that patients are able to make informed choices rather than relying solely on their doctors. The movement for change is on us but the tools for making choices are not.
John WilkinsonAuthor : MedTech Europe