Connecting the dots

Back from attending the (oh so) far away annual European Health Forum Gastein congress, we reflected on the threads that ran through the many varied debates. The European Health Forum Gastein, high in the Austrian mountains, provides an annual platform for decision-makers in various fields of public health and healthcare to discuss and debate the topical ideas and issues—notably, sustainable healthcare systems in Europe.

The beginning of October saw a team from FH Brussels Healthcare, comprised of Aoife Gallagher, Diane Watson and Tatiana Hulko, head to the mountains for the 4 day, wide-ranging programme.

We heard debates that spanned topics from vaccines and sustainable healthcare systems through to global health and social media.

We asked ourselves the question – what connects the dots across all these varying themes?

The answer is money, naturally. Whether it’s tackling obesity and exploring health prevention measures, or ensuring access to innovative medicines, how to ensure the sustainability of healthcare systems became THE question of the hour in response to these times of demographic, economic and health challenges.

With the increasing role of ministries of finance and tough choices to be made, one route mused during the Gastein forum was the opportunity to communicate the case for health is wealth.  On the path to sustainable healthcare systems, is there a need for smarter communication between ministries of health and other government departments? The path to sustainability means efficiency gains and optimising effectiveness of healthcare systems that maximise health outcomes. How can these be achieved? Is there real appetite for long term change in Europe? What direction will that take? There’s a lot to debate to find the solutions to healthcare systems sustainability.

But we couldn’t help wondering whether this question was answered. As a starter for ten, it is essential to have those very Ministry of Finance representatives around the table as well as those from DG ECFIN who have an increasingly a pivotal role in these decisions.

Aoife & Diane