During the symposium, EUHA looked back at what it has achieved in the past 5 years in many different fields, ranging from scientific and clinical collaboration, to improving patient care, interaction with the European Commission and tackling common problems together. Even more importantly, we looked at the future; together we identified emerging problems that we will address such as the healthcare workforce shortage. We also decided to strengthen the EUHA central structures and meet more frequently to support better the multiple existing and newly initiated projects.
In 2017, the leaders of 9 university hospitals met in Barcelona to discuss how they were managing academic medicine and the challenges facing European healthcare systems. All were convinced of the need and the potential for more interaction between their institutions, and they decided to start the European University Hospital Alliance (EUHA). Fast forward 5 years later, EUHA involves over 200 professionals from the 9 members that interact regularly across a wide diversity of different projects.
These professionals with clinical, research or educational roles share best practices in patient care and hospital management fields, align on strategies to challenges in academic medicine, try to find common ground in the complex European landscape of differing national regulatory and legal contexts or collaborate in joint research and development projects.
On the occasion of the Member’s Assembly, Prof Wim Robberecht of UZ Leuven, the serving EUHA president invited the colleagues of EUHA networks and working groups to join for a EUHA Symposium and visit to Leuven.
As part of the event, a CEO roundtable was organised to discuss the priorities for collaboration within EUHA in the context of the developing European health union. Mr John Ryan, Deputy Director General for Health responsible for Directorates B and C of DG SANTE also joined the discussion. Priorities for common action that were identified were the oncoming healthcare workforce shortage crisis, quality of care standards and the harmonisation of healthcare data standards.
During the plenary Thursday afternoon meeting, EUHA showcased the achievements of its working groups and networks, such as European research projects, starting a joint clinical trial of CAR-T Cells and the next steps in the benchmarking of the breast cancer care process. Peter Peumans, chief technology officer for healthcare at IMEC, a world-leading nanotechnology and chips R&D centre, discussed the potential impact of these developing technologies on life sciences. Prof Kristie Ebi, of Washington University gave a thought-provoking lecture on the impact of climate change on healthcare.
This symposium also gave the opportunity for many EUHA working groups and networks to meet in person. Amon others, the recently started Nursing Network had in-depth discussions on nursing research with colleagues from UZ Leuven on geriatric care models. The Research Leads Network discussed the ongoing developments in reforming and modernising research assessment across Europe. Lynn Seveke, EUHA Alliance Manager reflected on the days: ‘I am very pleased that so many colleagues attended the EUHA celebrations in Leuven and could finally again meet in person. It’s been great to see everyone’s enthusiasm, and this will strengthen our collaborations.
The Rare Diseases and ERNs Network discussed their work on comparing practices in the transition of paediatric patients to adult care. As the culture of care differs between paediatric and adult care, guiding this transition is of great importance to ensure continuity of care and high-quality outcomes.
The European cell and gene cancer therapy working group (EUCCAT) discussed new pricing and reimbursement models for these extremely expensive drugs. Johan Van Eldere, Coordinator commented: ‘all EUHA members are involved in research and clinical development of these new and potentially paradigm-shifting therapies. Within EUCCAT we are developing new models that will ensure that these therapies remain accessible to all our patients.
EUHA looks back on an inspiring and energising two days and wishes to thank Prof Robberecht and his team at UZ Leuven for the organisation of a great event.