The healthcare sector is one of the largest in the EU; it accounts for approximately 10% of the EU’s GDP and employs one in ten workers. Healthcare research and development has the potential to reach 0.3% of GDP and, therefore, health plays an essential role in the Europe 2020 agenda. According to EU statistics, the demand for cross-border healthcare only affects around 1% of public spending on health, however, ‘health tourism’ may be encouraged with people seeking cheaper health services abroad following the adoption of an EU Directive in February 2011.
The EU Directive on Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare seeks to eliminate obstacles hindering patients from receiving treatment in another Member State. Rules for receiving cross-border healthcare and reimbursement of these costs are not always clear and as such, the Directive provides more transparency and, also, clarifies who is responsible for quality and safety of care in cross-border settings. National contact points have been created in Member States to provide information and data on treatments, providers and levels of reimbursement across the EU, while Centres of Excellence will attempt to pool together professional experience between the different states. Furthermore, the Directive includes provisions that are especially meaningful for those suffering from rare and complex diseases with the development of European Reference Networks between healthcare providers and centres of expertise in the Member States. The Directive will reduce the uncertainty commissioners currently have on what rights patients have to receive treatment abroad and how to handle requests from patients for cross-border healthcare.
One year on from the adoption of the EU Directive, this high level Symposium in its second year will tackle challenges to the implementation of Cross-border Healthcare and their effect on patient’s safety and quality, health professionals’ mobility and European standards for healthcare services. The Danish Presidency will explore the creation of an adequate information system for the general public regarding medical prescriptions with equal access to all Member States. Delegates will have the chance to exchange innovative evidence-based ideas alongside good practices linked to cooperation between border regions in Europe and national healthcare systems.