1. Record patient response!
European patients and patient organizations regard the Euro Health Consumer Index as a most important measurement of healthcare performance and patient opportunities! The record response to the 2012 EHCI patient survey, performed by the UK polling group Patient View, confirms that European patients are engaged in healthcare matters and willing to take part in actions to advance healthcare in their countries.
The Patient View 2009 survey for the last EHCI attracted 602 responses from 33 countries. As the 2012 EHCI research team now starts to evaluate this year´s response, the number of answers has doubled – to no less than 1 114! Every country in the new EHCI (i.e. 34, including Serbia as this year´s newcomer) was represented in the survey.
The patient survey covers 15 questions, focusing on patient rights, access to information and waiting times. Some countries, with a formal claim for good access to medical records (to pick just one indicator) the patient judgments will reveal confusing, or even painful, deviation between official patient rights and what patients perceive as hard reality…
2. Yes – there will be gaps!
In times of financial crisis, everybody asks HCP if we can notice signs of deterioration of healthcare access and outcomes. Will the new EHCI document a widening gap between rich and poor countries? Will austerity measures brake the since long ongoing general improvement of healthcare performance in Europe?
– Yes, responds Dr. Arne Bjornberg, head of HCP Index research and production. Though we are far from finished in our analyses, my impression is that the 2012 measurement will point to a number of highly interesting – yes, even alarming – conditions. The Index will most likely reveal a number of gaps and problem patterns related to the increasing financial pressure.
– Thankfully, the traditional disdain for politicians and administrators among the medical profession seems to help preserve treatment quality. Where we see tendencies of worsening performance is in areas of waiting times and increasing private, “out-of-pocket” payments for healthcare, explains Dr. Bjornberg.
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Note that in countries known for financial problems, waiting time scores have worsened, while in the three countries having the best finances in Europe: Austria, Finland and Sweden, scores have improved.
3. Norway neck to neck with Sweden?
Since the first EHCI (2005) Sweden has been alone in achieving top marks for the medical outcomes. The 2009 EHCI ranked Sweden no 1 in this segment, scoring All Green with the maximum 250 points, followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands.
Working on the figures for the new EHCI, our index team finds that Norway seems to have done important progress improving medical treatment outcomes. Norway has been investing heavily in the healthcare sector, bringing the GDP share of healthcare to European top levels. Yet the pay off seems to have been slow. But now there seems to be a chance that Norway will be sharing the 2012 winner position for quality outcomes. About time for a country which in nominal dollars today spends more per capita on healthcare than the USA!
4. Short Intro to EHCI 2012
The Euro Health Consumer Index is the single pan-European measurement of how well national healthcare systems meet patient/consumer expectations with regard to user information, equal and timely access and treatment outcomes. The initial Index was put together 2005 and has since then expanded, today covering every EU member state and accession nations as well as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Albania and FYHR Macedonia, in all 33 countries. This year’s update will bring Serbia into the system as the 34th country.
EHCI builds the ranking on ~40 indicators in five sub-disciplines: Patient rights and information, Waiting times, Outcomes, Range and reach of services and Pharmaceuticals. The selection of indicators is decided in co-operation with the External Reference Panel, a group of senior healthcare experts to advise on the Index composition. The Index outcomes are presented in a user-friendly way, with traffic-light colors to tell if a country performs quite well, medium or poor.
The sub-divisions are given a weight indicating how HCP looks at their respective importance, providing Outcomes and Waiting times with the highest weight. Depending on how well a national healthcare system responds to the indicator criteria a total maximum of 1 000 points can be rewarded. The last winner (2009) – the Netherlands – scored 863 points while the weakest competitor, Bulgaria, scored 448 points.
EHCI not only provides a status assessment for each of the 34 countries but as well gradually make longitudinal analysis possible, as performance data have been generated since 2005. To patients and care consumers EHCI is an opportunity for lay-persons to inform themselves, to compare and to take action to achieve the best possible healthcare. To healthcare industry stakeholders this unique benchmark has an awareness and opinion forming potential. Altogether, better performance transparency and common ways to foster accountability drives healthcare quality – a win-win situation for Europe!
The EHCI methodology is explained on our website healthpowerhouse.com.
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