Three ministries exchange best practices for primary health care reform

The ministries of health of Austria, Slovenia and the Veneto Region – partners of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies – held a high‐level tripartite meeting on primary health care in Bled, Slovenia, on 5–6 June 2017. Their aim was to learn from one another’s best practices and to discuss the challenges of implementing reform in this field. The Observatory, the WHO Country Office in Slovenia and the Slovenian Ministry of Health organized the meeting.

In her opening speech, Minister of Health of Slovenia Ms Milojka Kolar-Celarc pointed out that coordination and continuity of care need to be improved as populations age and as the number of people with chronic conditions increases. Representatives from Austria and the Veneto Region, whose populations face similar problems, echoed this point.

The meeting was structured as a policy dialogue, and offered some 45 key stakeholders (including policy-makers, professionals, payers and researchers) a neutral platform for discussing primary health care. They focused on making reforms work in practice and on transformation.

Each of the 3 sessions featured international experts who shared comparative evidence and examples of good practice. The sessions addressed:

  1. integrating care and prevention;
  2. making the skill mix appropriate; and
  3. funding and paying for change.

Participants exchanged their experiences of innovation and of implementing new approaches that bridge the boundaries between professions and providers at different levels. They also benefitted from a session exploring available technical and financial support instruments, which included presentations from the WHO European Centre for Primary Health Care and the European Commission.

All 3 governments recognized the complexities of caring for an ageing population and increasing numbers of people with multiple chronic conditions. They agreed that primary care delivery must be redesigned to better meet people’s needs. They also confirmed their commitment to moving from a traditional, acute and episodic model of care to one that coordinates professionals and institutions and tries to actively engage service users and their carers.

Participants agreed on the huge scope of opportunities to learn from one another, and planned to meet again to exchange experiences and explore further collaboration.

About policy dialogues

Observatory policy dialogues are a particular approach to sharing knowledge and bringing evidence to practice. They are highly focused; work around a real policy question; and target senior policy‐makers, their top advisers and key stakeholders. Policy dialogues marshal evidence to support actual decision points and create an informal and neutral environment for decision-makers to discuss their options. The Observatory develops and facilitates the dialogues, often together with WHO colleagues, in close collaboration with Member States.