The 2011 Cross-Border Healthcare Directive is designed to provide clarity for citizens seeking medical treatment in an EU Member State other than their country of origin. Issues such as reimbursement and prior notification of travel for treatment are covered.
Member States had until October 2014 to transpose this EU legislation into their own national law, and the European Commission has published a report on the implementation of this Directive by Member States.
The result shows that very few citizens in Member States are actually making use of this Directive to seek treatment in other Member States. The unexceptional exception is Luxembourg, which already had agreements with other countries on the issue of cross-border healthcare prior to there even being a Directive.
The Directive does much more than just facilitates patient care in different Member States however. This Directive was also an opportunity for the Commission and Member States to address several other areas of healthcare which simply didn’t merit their own individual policy. Articles on eHealth, HTA, European Reference Networks are all included. It is in these areas where the Implementation Report actually shows significant progress.
The objective of the eHealth Network, is to support cooperation between national authorities and meets twice a year and is supported operationally by a joint action under the Health Programme. in the last four years, the Network has adopted guidelines on patient summaries data sets and on ePrescriptions and different position papers. Currently, it is working on guidelines on effective methods for enabling the use of medical information for public health and research.
Health Technology Assessment (HTA)
has adopted a Strategy for EU cooperation on HTA in October 2014, and a reflection paper on reuse of joint HTA work in national activities in April 2015.
eHealth and HTA are two areas where the EU desperately needs to make more progress so that the report sees success in these areas is nothing to be sneered at.
There are areas of improvement however. Centres of Excellence are underfunded, information to patients remains poor and progress on HTA has seen too much focus on medicinal products and not enough on medical devices.
In summary however – the implementation of the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive is on track, except in relation to the provision of cross-border healthcare.
The full report can be found here.