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Making patient centered community care a reality

8 June 2015

3 June 2015 - How do we develop sustainable patient centric community care policies while meeting the demands of various key stakeholders? This was the question at the heart of the discussions during Health First Europe's conference on 'Making Patient-centred community care a Reality'.

Held in collaboration with the Latvian Presidency of the EU, the event was the launching ground for a Declaration from the Latvian Presidency to facilitate commitment from Member States to an EU policy on community care that supports and empowers patients, nurses and informal carers to access innovations outside of acute settings.

The Secretary of State for Health in Latvia, Solvita Zvidriņa, opened the event by reminding participants of the focus on the Latvians during their term has been on healthy lifestyles, innovation and ehealth, and early diagnosis and screening of cancer. However, her main remarks focused on the need for community care, stating, "I am quite confident that there is a real need to focus on the patient and coordinating care at all levels".

Panel 1: Instituting dedicated community care for patients in Europe

Discussions amongst the first panellists raised a variety of questions with regards to health policy agenda priorities, topical focuses from both the Latvian and Luxembourgish Presidencies, core definitions of community care and financing policies.

Presenting the priorities of the upcoming Luxembourg Presidency, Ms. Laura Valli explained that patients will be at the centre of their work which will focus on personalised medicine, dementia and implementation of the Cross-border healthcare directive. This work will tie into various Commission activities on resilient health systems and health systems performance assessment according to Ms. Maria Iglesia Gomez from the European Commission, DG Santé. She stressed the importance of putting the patient at the centre of both health and social care stating, "Healthcare of the future will be more patient-centered. It has to be."

Similarly, Professor Jan de Maeseneer insisted on the need to integrate health and social care and said that "the money needs to follow the care" in order to increase efficiency in resource allocation. He also argued that we need to talk about the "citizen" rather than a "patient" particularly if policies are going to be aimed at helping to prevent disease.

Panel 2: Partnering for patient-centred community care- Role and demands of key stakeholders

The conversation of the second panel, which included representatives of various stakeholder communities, showcased personal experiences to highlight the importance of the Health First Europe roadmap for community care.

For example, John Dunne, President of EUROCARERS, emphasised the undisputable importance of 'informal carers' in the health system. He asked a poignant question to the audience – "What happens if the state promotes a patients' rights agenda in principle, but leaves it to informal carers to deliver?" This focus on "out-of-a-building" care was also a key tenet from Ms. Marina Lupari, Professional Lead for Primary and Community Nursing at the Royal College of Nurses. She advocated for the term "community care" as opposed to "primary care" because primary care is often associated only with GPs and not with all care settings outside of a building (i.e. at home). She advocated for better information (dissemination & sharing) channels and early assessment procedures on behalf of the nursing community. Much like Mr. Dunne, Ms. Lupari stressed the cost-effectiveness and compatibility of enhancing 'out-of-building' support systems.

Mr. Paul Buchanan, Founder of TeamGB, subsequently brought about a more personal and concrete account to daily care and the potential of social media for supporting patients to monitor their conditions in the community. Mr. Buchanan's own battle with Type 1 diabetes saw him speak to what does and doesn't work when it comes to health systems communicating to patients about chronic conditions. He suggested that health systems "don't fit with lived experience". Likewise, Mr. Serge Bernasconi, CEO of MedTech Europe, also cautioned that health systems are not in tune with current realities. Citing the trends in technology and innovation that are inaccessible to patients because of out-of-date structures, Mr. Bernasconi said that health systems need to reform to adapt to a patient who will demand access in the community. "The fact that the patient will be moved to the community, is tomorrow's healthcare", he said.

The key outcome of the discussions was the launch by the Latvian Presidency of the Declaration on "Making Patient Centred Community Care a Reality" and where the Presidency called upon the European Commission to invest in a dedicated policy for community care to:

  • Increase preventive care in the community
  • Facilitate access to innovation for patients in the community setting
  • Support training of healthcare professionals in the community
  • Promote integrated care across all points of patient care
  • Strengthen the governance of integrated care

Overall, the key contributors and participants agreed the community care is the future for all citizens and we need to take steps now to ensure that high quality care can be delivered to patients where and how they want it.

To view photos of the event click here.

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