The Netherlands has been named as having the best healthcare system in Europe, emerging as the overall winner in the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI) 2008.

The Netherlands re-takes the top position that it had previously won in the 2005 Health Consumer Powerhouse survey. The Dutch healthcare system, which was the runner up in 2006 and 2007, is also the sub-discipline winner on Range and Reach of Services Provided.

The Dutch system was closely followed by the Danish in second and the Austrian in third. Latvia came in at the bottom of the table of 31 countries in which the UK ranked at 13.

For the first time the ranking included a new sixth sub-discipline, e-health, measuring the penetration of electronic medical records and the use of web-based solutions for the transfer of medical information.

Though e-health was only given limited weighting in the scoring used, Denmark, which scored highest on the measure of e-health, significantly boosted its standing. France, meanwhile, was marked down for its poor performance on e-health measures, coming in at 10.

Health Consumer Powerhouse said: “The Netherlands is the really stable top performer in all our indexes and we find that its healthcare system truly is Europe’s best! The Netherlands have worked long on patient empowerment which now clearly pays off in many areas.”

The Belgium-based organisation added: “The conclusion is that to improve healthcare, it is important to recognize the link between medical outcomes and the easiness of access to services and quality information for patients. Good healthcare management and reform is not only a matter of money.”

The Danish, Hungarian, Luxembourgish healthcare systems all improved on their 2007 EHCI scores while the Cypriot, French and Portuguese performances were all sharply worse

We see a downward trend for countries like Belgium, France and Sweden. These health systems do not keep up with the improvement rate found in countries like Denmark, Ireland, Czech Republic and Hungary.

The Euro Health Consumer Index is the annual ranking of national European healthcare systems across six key areas: Patient rights and information, e-Health, Waiting time for treatment, Outcomes, Range and reach of services provided and Pharmaceuticals. In total some 31 countries are covered.

First published in 2005, the EHCI is sourced from public statistics and independent research.

The EHCI compares European states with very different financial resources. The annual healthcare spending, in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) adjusted US dollars, varies from around $600 in Bulgaria and Romania to $4000-5000 in Norway, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.


Health Consumer Powerhouse