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This 25th May, we took part in a workshop organized by MedTech and the European Patients Forum (EPF) to explore how community care can ensure equal and broad access to medical technologies for patients.

The changing demographics, the increasing number of chronic diseases, the restrained budgets and institutions out of date with today requirements, are all challenges the healthcare systems are facing today. To ease the situation, a Community Health Care model is being discussed as a potential solution. 

When people live with chronic diseases such as allergy, asthma and COPD, their care is provided by the community with many actors and levels involved. Community care aims to care for patients where they are through their lives, bringing healthcare outside hospitals to treat chronic diseases as well as elderly care. Community care consists of primary care, outpatient clinics, homecare, nursing homes, hospices, convalescent centres, ambulatory care and providers of medical technologies and aids.

With such an ideal model, all patients would benefit from a well-functioning home-care model, which would improve their health, satisfaction and quality of life. It would also reduce hospital stays by early release into home-care settings and avoid re-hospitalisation due to prevention and early detection of complications. It would increase therapy adherence through patient education and monitoring, allow treatment of multi-morbid chronic patients at home and improve healthcare outcomes through eHealth solutions.

So, why such a model is not yet available for the majority of Europeans? It is a question of structure and policy, of resources and patient education. Europe needs a transitional period to arrange organisational and administrative challenges from hospital- to home-care as well as the development of guidelines to cover care at home and transition to it. Crucial for patients, home care reimbursement is not yet available or is insufficient and there is a lack of qualification from healthcare professionals to implement this model. 

At EFA we take the potential of community care as an opportunity some patients would like to get. There are already successful examples of homecare models in Norway, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, but they are still in the early stages of development and should improve their application in the long run.  

Learn more on community care here.