Scope and purpose

Belgium Federal Public Health Service/ WHO Europe Workshop on Modern Health care delivery systems and the role of hospitals

21-22 November 2011, Brussels, Belgium

High performing health systems are critical to address key health challenges faced by Member States in the European region, such as changes in disease burden and population dynamics, in governance and funding mechanisms, and in technology and clinical management practice.

Over the last decades, many countries have significantly invested in strengthening the delivery of services at the primary care level giving lesser attention to the role of referral facilities.  While primary care and home-based care programmes are being developed, hospitals remain essential for providing complex acute specialized care and continue to represent an important part of health spending.  In addition, hospitals play an important role in shaping population perception on how health systems function in countries, which gives them political visibility.

Fragmentation and insufficient coherence in health care services are often considered as one of the main causes limiting the efficiency and quality of care, as well as the health system’s responsiveness to the needs of the population. The existing models of health care provision do not seem to have changed sufficiently to face the challenges of an ageing population, with increasing expectations of service quality and safety and with the ability to access these services on national grounds and through cross border care.

The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that due attention must be given to all levels of care as well as the integration of functions and coordination of care mechanisms. This requires evidence about where and how coordination between all levels of care can be significantly improved - a review of service delivery models proved most effective and consideration of barriers to process. 

Work in this field in the European context is closely linked to the global initiative started by WHO headquarters in identifying key questions to be addressed by the global hospital agenda within the wider context of coordinated care. Experiences from the various countries and regions of the world can be used to initiate a review of the place, role and function of hospitals within changing health systems, to support all Member States in the challenging process to remodel their hospitals appropriately and to build capacity to support health care delivery reform.

The present workshop aims to move a step further on the road to better integration and coordination of health care service delivery, by providing the scene for:

1. Reviewing the current situation in relation to hospital and health systems reform across the region, including patient choice perspective

2. Creating a shared understanding of the current state of health care delivery systems and their capacity and willingness to address change

3. Sharing stakeholders experiences and best practice models, both theoretical and applied, in the search of optimized solutions to increase health care delivery performance

4.  Exploring criteria for determining which areas should be prioritized and the potential methods for addressing challenges identified

a) At the operational level – improving effectiveness, quality, safety, patient experience and efficiency

b) At the organizational level – governance, budgeting, health workforce development and distribution etc

c) At the financial level - payers and policy makers

d) In integrating systems and levels of care to support and strengthen improvement at all of the levels mentioned above

5. Identifying unanswered questions, gaps in our knowledge and areas where further research is needed

6. Seeking expert guidance in how best WHO can continue supporting Member States in these areas.