EUHA experts gather to rethink European Healthcare systems

DATE March 23rd, 2023

The European University Hospital Alliance (EUHA) recently held a workshop onRethinking European Healthcare Systems: How can we assure the sustainability of the European healthcare workforce of the future?”  at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.  Considering the current healthcare workforce shortages and the increasing demands on the European healthcare systems, experts and leaders from across EUHA members came together with other international organisations to explore sustainable long-term solutions for the future of the healthcare systems.

For the past decade, the demands on healthcare systems have been increasing in several areas: an ageing population that requires more medical attention, the discovery of treatments for rare diseases and the rising costs of therapeutic options are some of the developments that lead to increased costs and challenge healthcare providers. Not only this, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a simultaneous shortage of healthcare workers, have further worsened and challenged the delivery of care. More concretely, EUHA is worried that the latter will affect the innovation potential of the healthcare sector, limit the accessibility to healthcare and affect the resilience of the system in case of future health emergencies.

For this reason and following the mandate of the EUHA Members’ Assembly in November 2022, EUHA has adopted as a strategic objective a focus on the challenges facing the healthcare workforce and exploring a joint European effort to find solutions that will address these challenges and support the healthcare workforce now and in the future.

Rethinking European Healthcare Systems:
How can we assure the sustainability of the European healthcare workforce of the future?

EUHA workshop

EUHA brought together experts from across its members as well as external advisors to the workshop “Rethinking European Healthcare Systems: How can we assure the sustainability of the European healthcare workforce of the future?” at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The meeting gathered significant expertise including clinical, research, HR, management, EU Policy experts and senior international advisors from EUHA member hospitals and other associated institutions including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The meeting opened with a short presentation by Philip Haywood and Dr Nicola Brandt from the OECD Centre in Berlin about the recently published OECD report “Ready for the Next Crisis? Investing in Health System Resilience”. (EUHA jointly hosted a virtual panel discussion exploring the report findings, which is available to watch here.)

During the workshop, experts explored how European healthcare systems could be organised, the necessary instruments and the role that academic health sciences and university hospitals can play in meeting increasing patient and population needs. In general, EUHA experts largely agreed that strategies such as recruitment and retainment approaches alone are important but not sufficient, and a structural approach to rethinking the current European healthcare model is needed. Participants discussed potential actions in the areas of digitalisation and technological innovations, changes in the healthcare system, investing in the current healthcare workforce, and education and training initiatives to support all health professionals.

Reforming healthcare systems

According to Prof Dr Heyo K. Kroemer, Chairman of the Board of Charité, what is needed is a more structural approach aimed at rethinking the European healthcare model.

“Increasingly tough requirements for healthcare, exacerbated by a spiralling shortage of skilled workers, cannot be dealt with solely through hiring and employee retention strategies. Preventing disease will be essential, with a new macrosocial focus on prevention and keeping people healthy in all areas. At the same time, we need to harness technological and digital innovation and channel these advances toward developing new ways of working in healthcare and innovative training programs for future healthcare workers. Changes in compensation systems, new coverage networks for urban and rural areas, telemedicine approaches, and access to and sharing of medical data in the European healthcare space are also important tools that we and our European partners need to bring forward.”

 Prof Dr Heyo K. Kroemer (CEO at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin)

Dr Claire Mallinson, Director of Education representing King’s Health Partners reflected at the end of the workshop:

“The importance of international cooperation on healthcare-related topics became especially clear at the height of the pandemic. Direct, uncomplicated dialogue in a spirit of mutual trust with our European colleagues was essential to cope with the crisis. We need to use this experience and further expand on our cooperation, since the shortage of skilled workers, the impact of climate change, and drug resistance are all challenges that we can only overcome if we work together.”

Dr Claire Mallinson (Director of Education at King’s Health Partners)

The workshop explored areas of focus and priorities for collaboration through EUHA, which we will continue to develop and share, including through upcoming virtual and in-person events.

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