Cross-border care – Report on impact of information on patient’s choice

A study on the impact of information on patients’ choice in the context of Directive 2011/24/EU on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare was published in August 2014. The study has been commissioned by the Executive Agency for Consumers, Health and Food (CHAFEA), acting on behalf of the European Commission (DG SANCO).

The study was divided into two phases: Phase I was based on a controlled online experiment and a survey undertaken in eight Member States, which investigated the impact of information on respondents’ choice to seek healthcare cross-border in the EU. This first phase also included a survey of payers. In a second phase, a shortened version of the Phase I experiment was implemented along with a survey that asked respondents questions about their experience as regards the National Contact Points’ (NCPs) websites.

As a result, the survey identified key drivers of travelling to another Member State for a medical treatment. The main drivers identified are:

  • cost of the treatment;
  • waiting time;
  • trust in the country’s healthcare system.

Consequently, authors recommended that information about prices and waiting time are easily accessible on NCPs’ websites.

When it comes to payers, they highlighted that the Directive facilitates cooperation among payers in different Member States, but they also pointed out some critical elements. In their opinion, the information provided to patients are too complex to understand and not sufficient to enable patients to make an informed choice about going abroad to receive treatment.

Finally, the findings showed that the main reason for patients to visit NCPs’ website was to find information about healthcare in a Member State other than their home country. However, the majority of users reported the information was not easy to find, and that in some cases not all information were provided or more details were needed.

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