COVID-19 has thrust health and patient outcomes into a global spotlight. Organisations and systems need to define and think differently about going forward – at population and/or patient levels. With appropriate political vision, leadership, commitment to science and innovation, we can continue to grow life expectancy but increase it equitably. 

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and PwC recently published the report Health Systems after COVID-19 that gives eight practical recommendations that are key for European stakeholders to pursue going forward in partnership. In a nutshell, the recommendations focus on preserving population health sustainably via a shift towards prevention and early care, which can be achieved by e.g., upgrading care practice and healthcare professional training, leveraging technology, and using data to improve outcomes. 

At EHMA 2021 Annual Conference, Novartis will host a session aimed at highlighting the need to build back better to prevent the emergence of silent pandemics, by learning from the COVID-19 response to tackle existing and future health challenges. Through this session, Novartis would like to call all stakeholders and movements from across Europe to discuss ways to “build back better”. Better resilience, better preparedness, better outcomes, are big opportunities for all. 

  • Better resilience: By optimising care, we will be better prepared to overcome – meaning we would proactively respond to – shocks and structural changes, returning to optimal performance. 
  • Better preparedness: By ensuring that healthcare systems are fit for purpose adapting to needs and representing the interests of all. 
  • Better outcomes: By looking beyond responding to crises and creating systems, which thrive to such an extent, the crises do not derail our progress: transformation results-driven and implemented for the long-term. 

Besides focusing on how we build back better, we also need to act on the repercussions of the pandemic on cardiovascular mortality and morbidity risk being exponential unless bold actions are taken. Improving cardiovascular health will have a crucial impact on the resilience of our healthcare systems. The digital transformation and the European Health Data Space offer great opportunities to pool patient data across Europe for research and for improving cardiovascular disease prevention, management and delivery of care, like defended by MEP Hearts Group. 

Today we are seeing how a pandemic can turn into a Syndemic or secondary pandemic, when health systems do not properly treat a disease for a year due to a lack of early detection of disease, diagnosis, and access to treatments, needs. The session will focus on how to build a comprehensive EU policy response to address the increasing burden of cardiovascular disease (CDV) and ensure that citizens can live longer, healthier lives – regardless of where they are born or live in the EU. 

A collaborative solution needs to mobilise research and innovation in CVD (and its interaction with other chronic diseases) and promote public-private partnerships in CVD innovation. By leveraging the various policy and funding instruments, including Horizon Europe, the EU4Health Programme, the European Health Data Space and Next Generation EU, as well as through horizontal healthcare and life sciences related policy instruments. 

Looking into the future, the projected number of people living with stroke will increase by 35% (from nine million in 2017 to 12 million in 2040). Today cardiovascular disease has been costing the EU €210 billion per year, due to direct healthcare costs, productivity loss, and informal care by caregivers. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an additional challenge, due to the significant impact it has had on CVD patients, in terms of access to and delivery of care, as well as of heart health and cardiovascular complications. 

Therefore, collaborative solutions are so important and needed. Looking beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to act on the structural needs. Although recognising the remarkable progress, societies face persistent challenges. Accordingly, there is a need to ensure that timely access to innovation and care and which benefits both patients and health systems. 

Inspired by the Portuguese Council Conclusions of 2021, which call for a dialogue to be facilitated among all: the Member States, patients and consumers, health professionals, industry and academia in the pharmaceutical and medical device areas, to closely collaborate and to co-create and facilitate solutions – this will be the time to act. 

Join EHMA 2021, the preeminent European conference on health management, meet with experts from Europe and beyond, and be part of shaping the future of health management.