Cross-border Cooperation – expert panel on investing in health opinion

On 29 July 2015, the Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in health adopted an opinion on cross-border cooperation in health. The Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health is a multi‐sectorial and independent expert panel set up by the Commission to provide it with sound and timely scientific advice in order to promote modern, responsive and sustainable health systems.

The concept of cross-border cooperation in health is based on the article 168 TFUE and is facilitated by the Directive 2011/24/EU on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. Indeed, it ensures patients mobility as well as an access to safe and high quality cross-border care.

This opinion was requested by the Commission’s Health and Consumers Directorate General in order to identify potential benefits and areas which could benefit from it as well as obstacles to cross-border cooperation and priority actions to overcome them.

In the opinion, the Expert Panel first identifies potential benefits of cross-border cooperation on a provider, payer and patient perspective. Potential benefits includes the freedom for patients to choose to be treated wherever they want, increased mobility for health professionals, the improvement of professional and vocational education for staff members as well as treatment in nearby facilities and a quicker response in medical emergencies.

It also identifies geographical areas which could benefit from greater formal cross-border cooperation.

Then, the Expert Panel focuses on obstacles to cross-border cooperation and divides them in three main categories:

1) Lack of information and transparency about treatments in another Member State

2) Uncertainty about payments and related reimbursement procedures

3) Arrangements for follow-up and post treatments issues

Finally, it suggests as priority actions at EU level the development of a system to provide data on the number of patients going to another Member State to receive care, which types of treatments they received, which problems arose and what are the possible solutions.

The HoNCAB project set up the Hospital Network for Care Across Borders in Europe, the aim of which is to exchange good practices on the management of cross-border healthcare, problems identified and possible solutions and to contribute to the creation of updated and not easily available information on cross-border healthcare, in order to address the issue of limited data on patients’ flow and determinants of patients’ mobility. The project is currently collecting such data through a Web-based application created within the project.

The opinion is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/health/expert_panel/opinions/docs/009_crossborder_cooperation_en.pdf