Future of health: Time for Europe to connect the dots (2024)

Innovation can deliver patient-centric, digitally advanced, resilient and sustainable healthcare ‒ a new video series shows what’s possible if the EU seizes this opportunity for transformation

Leon Davis was jogging when suddenly, he felt a pain in his chest. He arrived at a hospital, anxious, desperate for help and for answers. It was an enormous relief when clinicians discovered what was wrong and proposed a solution. And with the help of a wearable monitor, the doctors were able to access valuable data around the clock, offering Leon priceless reassurance.

Leon shares his experience in the second edition of Connecting The Dots produced by BBC StoryWorks. The video series, commissioned by MedTech Europe, brings us into the real lives of patients and health professionals in Europe and beyond. 

If you have ever wondered what truly modern healthcare looks like in the real world, then look no further. You will see how a tailored combination of diagnostics, monitoring systems and surgical tools got Leon back on his feet. 

A pivotal moment 

Leon was a fit and healthy person going about his busy life when, quite out of the blue, he was abruptly reminded of his own mortality. He could be any of us, any time. 

But Leon’s story is also the story of Dr Sadia Khan, a consultant cardiologist. She makes it abundantly clear that innovative tools not only improve outcomes for patients, but also enhance the experience of healthcare professionals. In a world where it is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain skilled people to meet our rising care needs, supporting health professionals in delivering efficient care is essential.

This is a pivotal moment for the EU. After delivering landmark reforms that are changing the healthcare and innovation landscape, European decision-makers can now embrace the power of technology to transform health systems for the better. At the same time, the new political cycle can strengthen European competitiveness and create jobs. 

Concrete solutions for Europe 

Anyone asking policymakers for change has a responsibility to put forward solutions. That’s where the MedTech Europe Manifesto for 2024-2029 comes in. Entitled Empowering Patients, Inspiring Innovation, it sets out a four-part vision for European healthcare and offers concrete proposals on how to make it happen. 

First, the future must be patient-centric. Watching the Connecting The Dots series, you will be struck by how patients describe their experience of being heard when clinicians and technologies meet their real-world needs. Whether that is through more convenient self-testing for cervical cancer or non-invasive ultrasound treatment of tremors, the patient is number one.

Whether by accelerating recovery time, facilitating hospital visits, or even improving night’s sleep, technology can help.

To support the next wave of innovations and ensure patient access to technologies, Europe must make its current CE marking scheme more efficient and predictable. By embracing better regulation principles, we can have a streamlined system with less overlap and fewer discrepancies between legislations. 

A digital future

Second, one cannot browse these videos without seeing the power of digital health and health data. Remote monitoring is facilitate older people like Sara to live safely and happily at home, smartphone apps support people with diabetes, and real-world data makes research more representative of the population. We live in a connected world and healthcare must be at the cutting edge of the digital transformation. 

To make this happen swiftly and for all, the EU and Member States must foster interoperability for digital health services and modernise their funding mechanisms for digital health procurement. And, with AI-enabled tools on the horizon, the EU needs to be a leader in regulating a fast-moving field while unlocking this technology for patients. In short, we need a true single market for digital health to bring innovation back to Europe. 

Resilient and sustainable 

As we look to the future, we should ensure that our health systems have the resilience needed to meet future challenges. Those challenges will include demographic shifts, rising rates of chronic disease, healthcare workforce shortages, and whatever surprises the future may have in store. 

From telemedicine to robotic surgery, medical technologies can reduce the physical demands on health professionals and boost their job satisfaction.

And in the face of the looming threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the latest technologies can help to prevent, detect, and manage the spread of infections today, without using antibiotics. As Professor Karen Ousey, University of Huddersfield explains, this can support responsible use of vital medicines without compromising patient care. Patients like Lucy, a mum of three, who had a wound infection after a Caesarean section.

These tools must be deployed without delay. At the same time, Europe’s capacity to manufacture these products needs to be protected by increasing the EU’s autonomy in accessing supplies of critical materials and components. The medical technology sector itself is a component of a resilient health system. We call for effective measures to shield healthcare against international trade distortions that put our industry at risk.

Finally, there should be no discussion of the future without considering sustainability. We see transformational potential in the Green and Digital agendas, and overlaps between digitally-enabled efficiencies and greener healthcare. 

Collaboration and partnership across the system can improve the social, ecological and economic performance of healthcare. Dialogue will allow manufacturers to navigate the transition to sustainable ways of working without interrupting access to vital technologies. 

There is much to look forward to as we face the future together. As the Connecting the Dots series illustrates, people in Europe, from babies in neonatal care to people in their tenth decade, can live healthier lives supported by innovative technologies. The task ahead is to ensure Europe is the place where innovation happens and is delivered to those who need it.

Future of health: Time for Europe to connect the dots (2024)

FAQs

What are the health challenges in Europe? ›

Europe's health systems are facing a perfect storm of challenges, with a post-COVID budget crunch, ageing population and health workforce crisis threatening long-term stability.

How are Europeans so healthy? ›

Portion sizes in Europe are generally smaller, reducing the probability of overeating. European food standards are stricter, with many additives found in American foods banned in Europe. The availability and affordability of fresh, local produce in Europe also support healthier eating habits.

What is the current healthcare system in the United States? ›

The US healthcare system does not provide universal coverage and can be defined as a mixed system, where publicly financed government Medicare and Medicaid (discussed here) health coverage coexists with privately financed (private health insurance plans) market coverage.

Why is healthcare important? ›

High-quality health care helps prevent diseases and improve quality of life. Healthy People 2030 focuses on improving health care quality and making sure all people get the health care services they need. Helping health care providers communicate more effectively can help improve health and well-being.

What are the most common health problems in Europe? ›

The main causes of death in EU countries are circulatory diseases and various types of cancer, followed by respiratory diseases and external causes of death. Circulatory diseases continue to be the leading cause of death across the EU, accounting for about 1.7 million deaths in 2017 or 37% of all deaths.

What is the biggest threat to global health? ›

We must fight one of the world's biggest health threats: climate change. In the face of one of the greatest health threats for humanity, the urgent need to implement measures addressing climate change remains a compelling, yet unrealized goal.

Why is European healthcare better? ›

Health coverage in Europe is universal. Having different structures of interactions between insurers, providers, and patients, all European healthcare systems aim to provide care to everyone, on the grounds of free access, equality and equity, and fairness: no matter how much you earn, you're getting a basic package.

What country eats the healthiest? ›

The 10 Healthiest Cuisines in the World
  1. 1. Japanese. Japanese culture tends to eat well in small portions with colorful vegetables and they strive to eat very healthy and using seasonal ingredients and flavors. ...
  2. Indian. ...
  3. South Mediterranean (Italian and Greek) ...
  4. Korean. ...
  5. Ethiopian. ...
  6. Nordic Scandinavian. ...
  7. Vietnamese. ...
  8. Lebanese.
Jan 23, 2023

Which country has the best healthcare system in the world? ›

The Best Healthcare Systems in the World in 2024

What country has the best healthcare, according to this assessment? Singapore comes in at No. 1! Other countries with the best healthcare are listed below.

Do younger or older doctors get better results? ›

While physicians with decades of experience offer invaluable perspective to the practice of medicine, some studies show that younger physicians are more likely to meet certain key competencies compared with older physicians, partially due to their proximity to residency and training, which can result in better patient ...

Who is number 1 in healthcare in the US? ›

Hawaii is the top state for health care in the U.S. It has the best health outcomes in the country, with low preventable death (630 per 100,000 people), diabetes mortality and obesity rates.

What is Healthy People 2030? ›

What is Healthy People 2030? Healthy People identifies public health priorities to help individuals, organizations, and communities across the United States improve health and well-being. Healthy People 2030, the initiative's fifth iteration, builds on knowledge gained over the first 4 decades.

What are the three goals of a healthcare system? ›

In the aggregate, we call those goals the “Triple Aim”: improving the individual experience of care; improving the health of populations; and reducing the per capita costs of care for populations.

What happens if you can't afford healthcare in America? ›

Not having health insurance can lead to large debt, affect your health if you delay care and may even hurt you at tax time, depending on your state.

What are the leading diseases in Europe? ›

Highlights. Circulatory diseases accounted for close to one-third (32.4 %) of all deaths in the EU in 2021. The second most common cause was cancer (21.6 %). COVID-19 accounted for 10.7 % of all deaths of EU inhabitants in 2021 and was the third most common cause of death.

What is healthcare like in Europe? ›

Most of Europe offers high-quality medical care that's as competent as what you'll find at home. The majority of Europe's doctors and pharmacists speak at least some English, so communication generally isn't an issue. Nearly all European countries have a universal health care system.

Is there a shortage of healthcare in Europe? ›

“We could face a crippling shortage of nearly 1.8 million healthcare workers, and the numbers are climbing,” Kluge told the European Health Forum Gastein in September 2023. “In some countries there are just 2.4 doctors for every 1000 people. That's not a gap. It's a gulf.”

What are the main health challenges in the UK? ›

Top 10 health worries for 2023
  • Weight.
  • Mental health.
  • Not enough exercise.
  • Being physically fit.
  • Unhealthy diet.
  • Back problems.
  • Dental health.
  • Joint problems.
Jan 23, 2023

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