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Care for patients at home 'to control health spending'
19 October 2009, Costeff in the Press
Published: Monday 19 October 2009 on Euractiv.com
Switching from hospital care to monitoring and treating patients in their homes will help make public health spending more cost-efficient, according to Edwin Kohl, chairman of healthcare lobby group Costeff.
"Staying at home is always cheaper than being in a hospital or nursing home," says Kohl, adding that using cheaper patented medicines and ensuring that patients take drugs as prescribed will also be part of the solution.
Kohl has founded a new lobby group, Costeff , to ramp up pressure on policymakers to reduce healthcare costs by embracing affordable medicines and homecare technologies. The organisation, launched this week in Brussels, was founded by a consortium of pharma industry players in the parallel trade, generics, biosimilars and homecare sectors.
The focus on containing healthcare spending comes as public budgets are under unprecedented pressure. France's public healthcare system is expected to run a €9.4 billion deficit in 2009, while Germany's public system will return a €7.4 billion deficit in 2010.
This situation is reflected across Europe. EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has urged national governments to resist cutting health spending, but there are similar pleas from the education, research and innovation sectors (EurActiv 06/10/09). Vassiliou says health systems will come under growing pressure as the population ages and is calling for investment in eHealth.
This sentiment is in line with what Costeff is proposing, as it attempts to focus the debate on how to get the best value for public money without jeopardising patient care.
"We have to ensure that elderly people can be treated at home in order to reduce unnecessary hospital stays. We must also use new innovations to ensure that medicines are taken correctly. It’s only by unlocking the innovation potential in all areas of healthcare that it can be possible to guarantee the sustainability of healthcare systems in Europe. Of course, any new services and new products we use have to add to patient safety," says Kohl.
Costeff is pushing for greater attention to innovations in the Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) sector. "Technologies in the area of telemedicine will help people be treated and monitored in their homes. This means they will need to visit hospitals less frequently and it will also help keep them healthier for longer," he said.
Ensuring that patients take the right medicines at the right time can also be supported by new technology, with automated reminders and new patient-friendly packaging of medicines becoming available.
"The best medicines are only worth the money if they are taken correctly as prescribed by doctors," Kohl said.