Health targets in Europe. Learning from experience



Health targets have been proposed as a tool to improve the governance of health systems. Health targets express a commitment to achieve specified outputs in a defined time period, and enable monitoring of progress towards the achievement of broader goals and objectives. They may be quantitative or qualitative, and based on outcomes or processes. However, like any tool, they must be used appropriately or they could lead to unintended or undesirable consequences.

As governments strive to improve the performance of their health systems, it is timely to assess the experiences of those countries or regions that have employed targets. This book draws on a series of case studies written by experts from Catalonia (Spain), England (United Kingdom), Flanders (Belgium), France, Germany, Hungary and the Russian Federation.

The book reviews the major technical, managerial and political challenges surrounding the definition and implementation of health targets. It concludes that they do offer scope to focus attention on agreed goals but, in order to realize their potential, they need to be based on evidence, accepted by those who must work to achieve them, be embedded in frameworks of mutual accountability, linked to appropriate incentive and/or sanction mechanisms and supported by an adequate intelligence infrastructure.


The editors

Matthias Wismar is Senior Health Policy Analyst at the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (European Observatory). Martin McKee is Professor of European Public Health (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) and Head of Research Policy (European Observatory).

Kelly Ernst is a freelance technical officer.

Divya Srivastava is a PhD student at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a former technical officer (European Observatory).

Reinhard Busse is Professor of Health Management, Technische Universität Berlin, and Associate Head of Research Policy (European Observatory).