How can we strengthen the healthcare system in and across Europe?

The idea of reshaping healthcare systems in Europe is daunting but integrating a stronger health ecosystem across the continent is a challenge EIT Health are willing to accept.

Fast becoming one of the most in-demand events in the European health innovation calendar, this year EIT Health hosted their annual summit in Paris, France. The event presented an exciting opportunity to interact with the latest thinking and developments in health from Europe’s leading healthcare thought leaders and innovators.

Attending the EIT Health Summit in early December 2019, Health Europa Quarterly sat down with Professor Alexander von Gabain, Chairman of the EIT Health Supervisory Board, in order to gain a deeper insight into how EIT Health could potentially enable the strengthening of healthcare systems in and across Europe, we also learned about the latest developments and innovative healthcare solutions, along with exploring how challenges can be overcome with the development of innovative healthcare solutions.

Let’s delve into the topic; how can EIT Health strengthen healthcare systems in and across Europe?

EIT Health has already become and has the potential to further grow to become an effective integrator. However, it is important to understand that we should not start creating institutions that did not exist before.

For example, in Europe, there are a lot of top-notch organisations in healthcare that already by themselves, or in local and regional activities, are about to build ecosystems and networks designed to strengthen existing healthcare systems. Now, ideally, our role should be to integrate all of those top-notch organisations and have a cross-border perspective.

However, the biggest challenge Europe currently has is segmentation. The problem here is that institutes do not have effective channels to be able to share their knowledge with each other, particularly across borders. Our activity should be largely devoted to getting to whatever challenge that is present in healthcare in an efficient and integrated manner and ensuring the problem is solved.

What more can be done in terms of creating a stronger health ecosystem in Europe?

Aside from helping to facilitate integration, the big question is how to integrate the patients and how to work across faculties collectively. That is the reason why we exist, to ensure a smooth integration process takes place to provide the best service to patients.

Furthermore, we need to continue to strengthen the innovation sector. I believe that the innovation sector will deliver the best outcomes when we have enough accompanying activities to force the good ideas to become incorporated in enterprises; and interconnecting the extensive knowledge, skills and experience that is available. However, to achieve many of these ideas, this requires funding.

We have become active in creating financial means such as a venture centre of excellence and crowdfunding platform for the first time: here individuals can participate in gaining assistance to launch their venture.

Let’s talk about healthcare systems – can you share some of the latest developments and innovative healthcare solutions?

The real issue right now is that the last person in the chain of communication has often been the patient. There are some patients that have very good skilled people around them, but they like to participate in taking the existing spectrum of treatments and then combining them individually to an optimum.

However, medicine is still from the perspective of the doctors and often is a part of an authoritarian structure. Patients can sometimes be afraid, particularly when they are severely ill, to share their own opinions on the medication.

To summarise, finding a new constructive way to interact with a patient which leads to an outcome where people feel better in their life and the years they have left is an innovative solution to explore, as this may even involve them consuming fewer medical treatments; and as a result could even lead to a cost reduction. Going from standard treatments to asking the patient what they want gives them a chance to make an adjustment to the risks they are up against.

However, the risk I see is that if the doctors are not prepared to deal with an emancipated patient, you could then have unnecessary friction, and there will be a loss of money due to misunderstandings.

So how would you overcome such challenges?

Education and mindset change. That is the reason why we are living in the knowledge triangle –research, development and education. I think the angle of the triangle is really such as the interface for a customer; and is the centre for the entrepreneur.

When making changes you want people who are willing to do it, who are responsible for it, and who are also recognised as owners in big and small organisations. You need educational settings that explain why it has to be and why it is deemed meaningful. In the end, everybody will gain and win.

Where would you like to see healthcare systems in Europe in five years’ time; and how can this be achieved?

I would say that I would like to see solutions to be more value driven, with the aim of really improving the life quality of the patient, along with helping to get the innovative power of Europe integrated in this reshaping of the healthcare systems, making more transparent operational failure and success rate of the organisations involved.

Moreover, I believe that all people involved from the house insurances to the venture capitalists to the entrepreneurs should move closer together to effectively integrate their resources together to ultimately improve the quality of the healthcare systems.

Alexander von Gabain
Supervisory Board
EIT Health

Please note, this article will appear in issue 12 of Health Europa Quarterly, which will be available to read in February 2020.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here