Publications

Integrating is caring: A paradigm shift in health

19 February 2019
Claire Dhéret (Head of Social Europe & Well-being programme and Senior Policy Analyst) and Simona Guagliardo (Policy Analyst)



Life expectancy in Europe continues to rise. However, despite recent advances in healthcare and medicines, healthy life expectancy – the number of healthy years a person can expect to have at birth – is still trailing behind overall life expectancy. People may be living longer, but they are also likely to become ill in old age, with the prevalence of chronic diseases and multi-morbidities growing at a steady pace. Add to that the constraints in public resources, rising healthcare expenditure, and low economic growth, and it becomes clear that European healthcare systems and societies at large are facing an unprecedented challenge.

In this Policy Brief, Simona Guagliardo, together with Claire Dhéret, argues that the integration of healthcare services in the EU is a policy worth pursuing. It has the potential to address the needs of an ageing European population, to tackle the rising cost of healthcare systems and deliver better health outcomes. The biggest barriers are related to the complexity and rigidity of the organisational structures of many European healthcare systems and to the level of engagement of health and care practitioners and patients.

Even though the EU has limited competencies in health, Guagliardo and Dhéret demonstrate that it can play a decisive role in overcoming the hurdles in the transition to integrated care, by collecting strong, evidence-based data, encouraging knowledge-sharing and capacity-building and creating a framework that facilitates the mobilisation of financial resources.

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