On the 1st of December, the CoR Interregional Group on Health and Wellbeing (for which EUREGHA is secretariat) held a meeting on the topic of the newly published reports in the initiative “State of Health in the EU”.

Stan Van Alphen, Lead Policy Coordinator of the State of Health in the EU cycle, introduced the “State of Health in the EU cycle” and the recently published Country Health Profiles and a Companion Report. (Please read more about the State of Health in the EU initiative below). The initiative originated with Commission President Juncker asking to strengthen country knowledge for the benefit of health systems performance assessment. The information and expertise will also feed in to the European semester process.

Five trends/conclusions are considered in closer detail:
1. Health promotion and disease prevention is key. Member States spend up to 80% of their health budgets on treatment of chronic diseases, even though many are preventable. Meanwhile, only around 3% is spent on prevention. 
2. The role of primary care. A well-developed primary care can be a cost-saver to the extent that it helps reducing avoidable hospital admissions and improves accessibility through the system helping patients to find timely and adequate care. 
3. Integrated care, which is linked to primary care. Due to the ageing population, there is an increased amount of multimorbid patients. Currently, healthcare services are scattered across different healthcare providers. Steps are needed for these healthcare professionals to work closer together with a more holistic and patient-centred approach to healthcare.
4. Focus on the health workforce is a key policy to realise the identified challenges. 
5. Health data available to patients. 

The presentation was followed by a introduction to the Country Health Profiles and their key findings by Willy Palm, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Mr Palm emphasized that also regions are important stakeholders in this exercise since, in many MS, regions have an important competence in policy and financing of health systems. The country profiles were developed as part of the two- year cycle, making sense of evidence and data from the OECD, Eurostat and the WHO, by putting them in the context of each single country and identify key challenges. The goal was to look at how future health systems need to transform to better meet the needs of the population.

Chair of the CoR Interregional group on health and wellbeing, Birgitta Sacrédeus, highlighted the recently published CoR report “The management of health systems in the EU Member States – the role of local and regional authorities” which contributes the local and regional perspective to the State of Health in the EU cycle.

Background information: 
On 23 November, the Commission published the 28 Country Health Profiles and the Companion report in the framework of the initiative “State of Health in the EU”. The reports are two out of four deliverables in the two-year initiative launched by the Commission in cooperation with the OECD, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and Member States. The aim is to boost analytical capacity and support Member States with their evidence-based policy making. The State of Health in the EU cycle includes the following four deliverables: 1) Health at a Glance: Europe report, 2) Country health profiles for each Member State, 3) a Companion report to accompany the country health profiles, and 4) voluntary exchanges that Member States can request to discuss best practices and other findings from the State of Health in the EU.

The Country Health Profiles, prepared by the OECD and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, give a snapshot of a population’s state of health and key risk factors, along with a brief assessment of each health system’s performance in terms of effectiveness, accessibility and resilience. The Companion report draws cross-cutting conclusions from the 28 Country Health Profiles. These highlight shared policy objectives across the EU countries, and reveal potential areas where the European Commission can be of help in facilitating mutual learning and exchange of good practice.