Third Regional Conference on Cross-Border Healthcare
The third EPF Cross-Border Healthcare Conference took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 7-9 July, as part of a series of four EPF regional events for patient communities on this topic. The fourth and last one will take place in Tallinn, Estonia, on 6-8 October 2014. Representatives from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden are invited to register for this event (link).
The Slovenian event gathered patient leaders from five participating countries: Austria, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Participants have committed to transfer learning and knowledge from the conference to peers within their organisation and networks.
John Rowan of the European Commission (pictured, second from left) explained the importance of cooperation between National Contact Points (NCPs), patient organisations, healthcare providers and insurers. “There is certainly room for improvement”, he said, “but the Directive constitutes an early stage of an EU health policy which we can all build upon”.
Representatives from Slovenian, Czech, Hungarian and Austrian NCPs provided a very realistic exchange. Patient representatives asked direct questions and outlined their expectations regarding provision of quality information. With about 200 requests a month since November 2013, and growing, the Slovenian contact point is already a success, which the representative attributes to huge media coverage at its opening.
Gabor Pogany of the Hungarian coalition of patients’ organisations (HAPO) (pictured, 1st on the left side) believes the major element of the Directive lies in the prior authorisation exemption for cross-border treatment, which is allowed for certain types of care. However, the fact that patients still need to pay for treatment upfront – even if reimbursed afterwards by their home Member State - remains a big shortcoming.
“With this set of conferences, we hopefully took the first steps towards stronger awareness of the landmark Directive and its implications for patients. We have contributed to create a network of patient leaders who are committed to disseminating information to their peers. They now intend to work together with their national NCPs to support effective implementation and provide feedback to EPF on patients’ experiences on the ground”, said EPF Executive Director Nicola Bedlington.
During the next two years, EPF and our members will continue to monitor the impact of the legislation closely from a patients’ perspective. We will ensure that the grassroots patients’ experiences will inform the European Commission’s first progress report, due in October 2015.
Please click here for more information about our work in this policy area. A copy of the report of the Conference will be online by the end of August.
Contact: Kaisa Immonen-Charalambous, EPF Senior Policy Advisor, firstname.lastname@example.org
The pictures of the conference are available here: EPF Facebook Page.