The economy of well-being
EFPIA welcomes the Council Conclusions on the Economy of Wellbeing, aiming to put people and their wellbeing at the centre of policy-making. The conclusions rightly point out the link between health and wellbeing and economic growth, productivity and long-term sustainability.
To realise this potential for patients and for Europe EFPIA calls on the EU institutions to further strengthen work to support health systems in collecting standardised health outcomes data and further develop a robust monitoring framework to support the European Semester and related EU policies with relevant data.
The Council Conclusions outline that, by ensuring high quality healthcare and investing in preventive measures, 58 billion Euros could be saved in Europe by 2050. EFPIA agrees that health should be seen as an investment in the future rather than only as expenditure in the short term. According to the paper, on the one hand investing in health will contribute to stronger economic growth, through for instance improved labour market participation as population health is a productive factor, and, on the other, it will contribute to reducing costs and the societal burden provoked by ill-health. Furthermore, investing in health supports an innovative and research-intensive sector, which creates highly skilled jobs in Europe. The pharmaceutical industry contributed directly and indirectly to the employment of 2.5 million people in Europe 2016.
People-centred health systems that focus on the outcomes that matter to citizens and patients are one of the key pillars for increased wellbeing in Europe. Available data show that health outcomes vary dramatically between and within countries in the EU and the lack of comparable data makes this fact a less discussed aspect of health inequalities in Europe. For this reason, the Council Conclusions rightly highlight the importance of measurement and data collection to underpin policymaking that supports health and wellbeing. Statistics on economic performance have to be complemented by metrics that capture the health and wellbeing of the European population in a format that can inform policy- and decision-making in a meaningful way. In this regard, there is a growing recognition that health system governance has been mostly reliant on data on inputs (e.g. number of doctors or hospital beds) and activities (e.g. number of interventions performed) rather than outcomes that matter to patients and citizens.
EFPIA therefore welcomes the recommended actions as outlined in Council Conclusions, including integrating a focus on health and wellbeing in all aspects of national and EU policies, and calls on the EU institutions to further strengthen the work in the following areas:
- Support health systems in collecting standardised health outcomes data
The European Commission could devote EU funding instruments to support the implementation of standardised health outcomes measurement in national and regional health ICT systems, and provide tools for their collection and analysis. With this next generation of complementary health indicators in hand, health professionals would be able to treat patients with increasingly complex conditions and multiple morbidities more effectively, and deliver the outcomes that patients value the most.
- Further develop a robust monitoring framework to support the European Semester and related EU policies with relevant data
To underpin the European Semester and the implementation of the Social Pillar and the Sustainable Development Goals, the framework for indicators and data collection at EU level needs to be further developed. In this regard, the ability to link data on health outcomes with other data sets such as socio-economic data, risk factors and environmental data is crucial. For this reason, efforts to develop a European Health Data Space, where data collected for different purposes can be reused for research at a large scale, in full accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation, is extremely important. Public-private partnerships can play a key role in developing the necessary solutions for such a vision, such as the IMI2 European Health Data and Evidence Network (EHDEN). EFPIA also strongly supports the recommendation of the EU Health Coalition to establish a European Health Data Institute.