26 Nov 2018 - 28 Nov 2018
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- ‘Big Data’ should have patient welfare at its heart
‘Big Data’ is here and here to stay. We are sharing more and more information in more and more different ways and the trick, clearly, is how to use these data superhighways for the benefit of mankind.
One way to do that, in this era of fast-moving science and the advent of personalised medicine, is to put Europe’s 500 million potential patients across 28 EU member states at the heart of this incredible revolution.
- Timmermans’ ‘Better Regulation Plan’ is a step in right direction
This week saw the unveiling of the European Commission’s ‘Better Regulation Plan’, with its aim to streamline regulation, cut red tape and help the EU to be “big on big things, small on small things”.
Acting under the brief provided by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker – who hailed the plan as one of his key policy goals – Commissioner Frans Timmermans said he and his colleagues are “determined to change both what the Union does and how it does it” and pointed out that citizens and businesses feel that: “Brussels and its institutions don’t always deliver rules they can understand or apply.”
- 100 million potential patients ‘not well-informed’ on cross-border health options
A major survey undertaken on behalf of the European Commission has shown that the experience of cross-border health care in the EU has changed little since 2007.
This is despite the implementation of a Directive on patients’ rights in cross-border health care more than a year prior to the poll.
- Health-care spending cuts are false economy
Two recent elections in Europe have raised the spectre of exits from, in one case, the European Union and, in the other, the single-currency eurozone, but under very different circumstances.
The Conservative victory in the UK has at least brought continuity and, arguably, stability (despite the small majority that the Tories command at Westminster) while most observers would be hard pushed to find anything but chaos as a result of the recent election in Greece, given its parlous fiscal situation and the way the ruling government is seeing fit to handle it.
- Governments come and go, but health remains the big issue
The dust is settling on a largely unforeseen election result in the UK that gives the Conservatives a slender majority and decimates former coalition partners the Liberal Democrats. UKIP received a healthy slice of the vote, but unlike the SNP which now dominates Scotland with 56 from 59 seats, they (re)acquired only one seat at Westminster. Labour, which the pollsters had as virtually neck-and-neck with the Tories mere hours before the polling booths opened, saw its vote collapse north of the border and, as it failed to win most of the seats it had targeted elsewhere in the UK, the party trailed in a distant second.
Labour’s leader Ed Milliband duly fell on his sword, as did the Lib Dems’ Nick Clegg and UKIP’s Nigel Farage, who had pledged to resign if he failed to win in Thanet. Meanwhile, Conservative leader David Cameron was once again asked by the Queen to form a government and, this time, he’s been able to do so without the usual horse-trading that accompanies putting together a workable coalition.
- Digital Strategy: Putting patients at the heart of the EU agenda
This week saw the launch of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy, which can be summed up as highly ambitious and equally long overdue. It contains 16 initiatives which will be overseen by DG Connect and has among its goals the laying down of a level playing field across member states while getting a ball rolling again that had become stuck up a tree under the Barroso Commission.
A key challenge for President Jean-Claude Juncker and his team is the fact that technology is moving swiftly while legislation, by its very nature, is slow. Another issue lies in the silo mentalities of member states although, at least according to Commissioner Andrus Ansip, this may be changing. He said this week: “This time we have really remarkable input from almost every EU member state…I can hope that we can move on much faster.”
- Affordable health care in testing times: The way forward
With more and more researchers, front-line clinicians, pharmaceutical companies, patients’ groups and individual citizens becoming aware of the potential of personalised medicine, the question now is how to make the best use of its ability to offer the right treatment to the right patient at the right time in a way that is affordable.
Arguments continue to rage in a world of cost/benefit analyses but the fact remains that we live in a 500 million citizen-strong EU of 28 member states with an ageing population that will inevitably become ill at some stage.
- Is precision medicine the route to a healthy world?
In response to a recent letter in The Lancet, Is precision medicine the route to a healthy world?, stakeholders of the Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) feel duty- bound to state their case.
The authors of the original letter argue: “Although precision medicine will almost certainly be used in niche applications, if widely implemented, it could be a distraction from low-cost and effective population-wide interventions and policies,” adding “we believe precision medicine is not the route to a healthy world and instead urge a renewed and increased focus on public health and prevention.”