Brussels, June 6, 2018 – At the invitation of host Dr. Biljana Borzan, MEP and the European Society of Radiology (ESR), Members of the European Parliament, European Commission officials, and health stakeholders discussed the importance of successfully implementing health policies in clinical practice at an event at the European Parliament. The medical sector is affected by a number of significant regulatory and policy initiatives passed in recent years, including signature pieces of EU legislation like the basic safety standards (BBS) directive and the medical devices regulation (MDR), and the EU’s comprehensive digital single market strategy. Now is the time to ensure these measures are implemented to result in the best possible care for patients.
Opening the event From health policy to practice, Dr. Borzan set the stage for a lively 90-minute discussion that featured the perspectives of speakers representing seven different organisations. According to Borzan, “the diversity of Europe’s healthcare systems is a great strength, but we need common standards to drive quality for patients, safeguard their rights to care across borders, and enhance the mobility of health professionals. Events like today’s discussion can help legislators find the right balance between harmonisation and diversity that spurs innovation.”
The last two parliamentary terms were productive in terms of legislative output regarding health, with the medical devices regulation being a stand-out example of the importance of guaranteeing patient safety while safeguarding Europe’s place as a world-leading marketplace for technological innovation. Borzan stated, “even in the turbulent times since 2008, the EU focused on putting forward-looking policies on the books to modernise Europe’s health sector. Now is the time to focus on properly implementing these initiatives and assessing whether they achieve the desired results. Doing so successfully requires EU institutions to work together more effectively, and we will need to rely on stakeholder organisations’ expertise and networks to ensure benefits reach patients and professionals in the field.”
There was widespread agreement among participants, which included MEPs, representatives of two European Commission Directorates-General, patient organisations, medical societies, and industry bodies, that there is room to improve the positive impact of EU policies through better implementation. Presenters voiced a number of key suggestions for how this can be achieved, including better intra- and inter-institutional cooperation in the EU, giving more emphasis to the voice of patients, and proactive engagement of stakeholders. These principles should be adhered to from the time that a policy proposal is formulated all the way to the point of patient care where the measure’s effect ultimately unfolds.
In representing over 75,000 members of the radiology profession, part of the ESR’s role is to actively engage in the policy-making process at the European level. “Our society works hard to provide its members with the information and tools to comply with regulations, implement best practices, and continue to embrace technological and scientific innovation in delivering patient care”, said Prof. dr. Paul M. Parizel, Past-President of the ESR. “Rational use of medical imaging holds the key to ‘value-based healthcare’, improving patients’ lives, and saving money. Medical imaging is a horizontally integrated discipline, interfacing with almost all other fields in medicine, providing the cornerstone of a correct diagnosis, and guiding the path towards the most appropriate treatment and follow-up of patients. As medical doctors, our job is to judge every measure on its impact on patients: Will that regulation enable us to provide better care? Will adopting this software lead to better patient outcomes? Sharing best practices is a key function of a professional society, and feeding the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t back into the policy-making process can help create a virtuous circle for continuous innovation for the benefit of patients.”
The ESR welcomes the EU’s strengthened focus on the implementation of policies. After all, the most well-crafted law or well-intentioned concept will not achieve the desired impact unless implemented properly. “Policy-making does not end with the publication of a new regulation in the EU’s official journal. In some ways, cooperation between patients, professionals, and industry working together with legislators and policy-makers has its most added value as a policy is translated from paper into real life”, added Parizel.
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