In a meeting held in the European Parliament on 5 December, the Patient Access Partnership (PACT) and the Interest Group on Patient Access to Healthcare warmly welcomed the work done by the European Commission and ICF on a pilot project which aims to accurately and comprehensively measure access to healthcare across the EU. This pilot project ′Towards a fairer and more effective measurement of access to healthcare across the EU′, came into life as a direct result of intense advocacy efforts on the part of PACT, the Interest Group on Patient Access to Healthcare and other key stakeholders two years ago.

Background to the project is the  huge importance of access to quality healthcare to citizens′ well-being and social protection. Until now however, this complex concept has not been measured in a comprehensive and standardised way across the EU.  Therefore, the pilot project aimed to first establish a conceptual framework of access to healthcare, based on a systematic literature and policy review and taking in the views of stakeholders and interested parties. This framework is based on 6 key dimensions of healthcare access, i.e. Availability, Affordability, Adequacy, Timeliness, Accessibility and Appropriateness.

These dimensions were then populated with a set of some 100 indicators – existing as well as new ones – in order to cover the wide spectrum of healthcare access measurement across all its dimensions (i.e. prevention, primary, secondary and long-term care).

The next step consisted of the development of an extensive accompanying strategy and roadmap, to facilitate implementation.  In this context,  ICF Consulting Director Katerina Mantouvalou underlined that ‘real access to healthcare will only become a reality with the cooperation and involvement of a variety of stakeholders to truly implement this strategy’.

The meeting therefore also provided the opportunity for representatives of Eurostat, Eurofound and OECD – already working closely with DG SANTÉ on current health initiatives and data gathering – to come forward with their views and recommendations.

Interest Group Co-chairs present in the meeting expressed their appreciation of the pilot project, not least because it delivers on one of the first priorities of the Interest Group. Biljana Borzan MEP stated that ‘this pilot will help us to obtain a concrete overview of the situation when talking about access to health and is crucial as we can never have any proposal for change if we do not have the right data’. Lieve Wierinck MEP also underlined the importance of robust measurement of access to health care ‘which will help to plan and implement change. However, in order to be really effective, cooperation will be needed from all stakeholders involved’.

European Patients’ Forum Secretary General Nicola Bedlington, chairing the meeting, thanked the Commission for taking the steps to ‘conceptualising access to health and to measure this as a first step towards concrete action to ensure that access will become a reality for all, irrespective of age, gender, employment or residential status. This is a basic human right’.

ICF representatives underlined that the tool as developed so far will be ‘live’ and flexible, to be improved and adapted based on experience and implementation.


The report from the meeting is available below: