Currently flipping through the European Health Consumer Index for 2008, which seems to rate nations (in Europe) based on how well the health system treats patients and how empowered patients are. Though as I flip through it, they frequently point out they are not trying to claim to know which is the BEST system in Europe, while still referring to the Netherlands as their winner for 2008.
Their biggest criteria seems to revolve around patients’ rights and subtopics like E-patient files, which indeed there is a pamphlet in my mailbox this week that seeks to explain how that new system works here in the Netherlands. They also get into what countries are good with introducing new medicines, or which have long waiting lists, or infant mortality, etc etc. Also following the Netherlands in the top three are Denmark and Austria. You may recall France being often heralded as one of the best health systems in the world, according to this survey, they rank 10th in Europe.. with ,interestingly enough, Estonia right behind them. What keeps France in 10th place? They say the medical system has been too slow in adopting new web based information sharing systems for patient files, and there is some reference to a very authorotarian ASK YOUR DOCTOR tradition that holds patients back.
Such studies are interesting, but as I’ve mentioned before on this bog, in my experience the Netherlands is not big on proactive medicine. Doctors number one reaction to anything is to send you home. That may be appropriate alot of the time, but it leaves me wondering how often patients with something important are turned away… that doesn’t sound very patients’ rights to me. But yes indeed, they’ve got this new e-patient file system and the hospitals seem well organized and nice, and as some of my favorite medical student friends remind me “the next generation of medical professionals in the netherlands are going to rock.” Still, does all this qualify as the best in Europe? I think I’ll keep reading and see if I learn anything more.