Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 501586
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Spain

The road ahead for patient mobility in Europe

A study focused on patient mobility and access to health care away from home has shed light on significant challenges that lie ahead for the EU. The knowledge generated sets the groundwork for relevant discussions and actions to be taken.
The road ahead for patient mobility in Europe
One of the advantages to an enlarged Europe is greater access to health care for patients across the region. To exploit the full potential of related benefits, however, actions are needed in terms of coordinating regulatory, legal and contractual issues, as well as better providing information to patients and care providers. Taking such actions first requires a better understanding of the differences in operations of various health systems and the practical obstacles to enhanced coordination.

An EU-funded project, 'The future for patients in Europe' (Europe for patients), sought to offer this insight by focusing on specific categories of patients. The researchers first differentiated between patients in need of health care that go abroad or are already abroad.

The former group was further divided into patients living in border areas, those referred abroad by their health-care systems and those seeking it out on their own. The second group was divided into long-term residents having retired abroad and those visiting temporarily (for example, for tourism or business).

Researchers gathered material and examined case studies for each category and analysed their specific characteristics, needs and expectations. They came to a number of conclusions regarding the challenges, which are likely to differ for each category, of mobility, arrangements for access, payment methods, and management arrangements. An analysis was also carried out on the impact of various arrangements for patients and those involved in health-care delivery, as well as on health-care systems.

With improved access and right to free movement, there is likely to be an increase in the numbers of patients seeking out health care abroad. However, bureaucratic hurdles, a lack of information and problems regarding continuity of care are just some of the challenges that present. Others include difficulty accessing medical information, uncertainty surrounding the administrative and legal frameworks, fragmentary data and the interoperability of Europe’s health systems.

Europe for patients shed light on important issues regarding patient mobility and access to healthcare and also put forward a number of ideas for ongoing discussion. These include the possibility of a need to develop a new EU health services instrument, building on current legislation, and advancing systems that will ensure minimum safety standards and quality of care provision. Such efforts in the direction of improved access to and quality of health care are sure to strengthen an increasingly integrated Europe.

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