Stimulating local health economies

July 2017

There is concern across the European Union that health does not figure prominently enough in the economic development plans of Member States at both national and regional levels. Starting in 2005 as an Interreg IIIC network operation, HCN is an initiative that spun-off into a non-profit company that still seeks to help address this challenge. Specifically, the project partners and other organisations we have worked with over the last decade share a view that:

  • Economic clusters, combining public and private sectors in successful partnerships, are significant features of successful regions.
  • Publicly funded health systems have considerable leverage (people, capital, procurement, innovation) that can contribute to building dynamic and inclusive regions.
  • Nobody has worked out how to release and maximize this hidden public sector capacity effectively how to connect health systems and regional development. This is a ‘know-how’ capacity gap.

Health is central to economic recovery and social cohesion at individual, community and regional levels. But, policy choices and investment decisions for health systems in the new economic and financial climate (including use of European Structural and Investment Funds) have 2 challenges (i) to shift from hospital-centric care models to more patient focused service networks supporting active and healthy ageing (ii) to better align investment and spending decisions with sustainable regional development goals that help tackle inequities. For both, it is the added value principle that will shape strategic and sustainable change for health systems.

In response to these insights, HCN facilitates the sharing of information, experience and ideas between regions about how to engage the health sector more effectively in regional development. The focus of this work was on 4 thematic knowledge themes and this has contributed to subsequent projects and assignments:

Published by

Jonathan Watson