Quality of Care

Quality of healthcare is at the heart of European Patients' Forum’s work.The involvement of patients in evaluating and co-designing healthcare services can ensure that the latter work better for all users. As stated in the European Union Third Health Programme “Healthcare practices should be informed by feedback from, and communication with, patients.” (Regulation (EU) No 282/2014, recital 12)

EPF believes that the patient experience should be adopted as a key evaluation tool in assessing the quality of healthcare and health systems’ performance. Key indicators for assessing healthcare quality should be defined by patients themselves, and not by what providers assume is important for patients. Patients’ feedback should be encouraged, listened to, and acted upon.

Meaningful patient involvement as defined by EPF is based on the premise that patients have a specific expertise and knowledge derived from lived experience. Only the patient sees the “whole journey.” We can identify gaps in services, but also superfluous or unsolicited services, helping make healthcare both more effective and more efficient.

(See EPF's related work on Empowerment and Patient Safety)

Key steps


In December 2017, EPF published a Position Paper on Quality of Care. The position paper was largely based on the results of the survey as well as EPF’s other related work. The paper was not intended to be scientific, but rather to provide some insights into the priorities of patients and patient representatives, via consultation of EPF’s membership. The paper will provide insight and information to guide EPF’s future advocacy work.


In 2016, EPF conducted a survey aiming to explore the perceptions of patients about what “quality” means for them, and what matters most in quality of care. The survey was aimed at patient representatives: primarily individual patients, their family members or informal carers, and patient organisation representatives across the EU.

The outcomes of the EPF survey on Quality in Healthcare were summarised in a report at the end of 2016. The report is available here.  

With this work EPF aims to contribute to the European debates around quality, including a common definition of quality of care, and prepare the ground for discussions on appropriate indicators for measuring patient-centredness of healthcare and patient empowerment. The survey is also closely linked to EPF’s activities supporting the implementation of the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.

In November, EPF organised in Brussels a 2-day conference to explore how the involvement of patients and their families could improve the current staggering figures of patient safety and health-related adverse events and the quality of care. See the conference report hereand the presentations used by the speakers here


In 2014, EPF participated in the work of the Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health on Future EU Agenda on quality of health care with a special emphasis on patient safety stressing patient-centredness as a key dimension of quality of care.


The first steps in an EU-level discussion on quality in a wider sense took place in 2010 with the publication of “Quality of Healthcare: Policy Actions at EU Level” reflection paper no. 9366, which outlined specific objectives for improving the quality of healthcare in the EU and possible policy options to achieve these objectives. EPF contributed to this paper.

Interested in this topic? Have a look at our latest factsheet on quality of care!