Industrial changes in the health sector (own-initiative opinion)

EESC opinion: Industrial changes in the health sector (own-initiative opinion)

The medical technological industry – focus of the opinion – plays a major role in the current transformation of the health sector to the benefit of patients and a value-based health care in Europe.

 A major issue is highly personalised health care that ensures equal and better access and quality. Technology and large sources of anonymous data will greatly facilitate new treatments and operations as well benefit all phases of prevention and recovery. Recovery increasingly takes place outside hospitals, using eHealth technology.

Subsidiarity is cautiously guarded in health care systems as services of general interest. The medical sector and its organisation are very decentralised and fragmented. National and regional barriers must be reduced to optimise outcomes of new technologies and achieve better efficiency and effectiveness in line with the publicly defined objectives of health care systems.

The ongoing interaction between the great variety of relevant stakeholders – national ministries, patient organisations, medical staff and other personnel in health care, hospitals, insurance companies and supervision – creates a complex environment for industrial actors, notably SMEs.

The industrial transformation process is also considered to take due account of the common values and principles that underpin Europe's health systems, as laid down by the Council in 2006 , as well as confirmed in recent commitments in the EU social pillar and the agreed Sustainable Development Goals.

Industry needs the European scale as a basis for a reliable domestic market as well as to build sufficient international resilience. The EU is critically important for the creation of a better playing field as well as for guiding and monitoring transformation processes.

Key stakeholders and Member States should develop optimal approaches and commitments regarding access to and quality of health and care, affordability, and prevention. In the same context special approaches, also concerning nursing, are required to meet the needs of vulnerable, notably elderly people. As important are optimal approaches towards new technologies and innovation, integrated care models, and alliances, as well as (cross-border) networks and (large-scale) PPPs. Proper implementation of EU rules and guidelines should be ensured. Each of these issues requires the Commission services to play an active and stimulating role.