It is shared and common prejudice that the costs for health care are rocketing and approaching the limits of affordability. This is not supported by evidence on expenditure over a 10 year period of economic change, intense health sector reform or consumer preferences and demand. A challenge shared by all European regional health systems in a financial climate where cost containment, restriction and rationalization of health care dominates is that health organisations need to be able to demonstrate the added value of investment and expenditure decisions. The health sector is much more than doctors, hospitals and pharmacies. The health sector absorbs large amounts of labour, commodities and research and thus creates incomes, which in turn flow back into the economic cycle of locations, regions and the overall economy. Within regions, health sector spending ranges from 5.5% to 11% of regional GDP. This is a significant level of economic activity. But it is not optimized to positively contribute to regional development agendas.
Health care providers (increasingly blending with social care) have four roles that need to be developed and maintained synergistically: service provider, real economy player, facilitating social cohesion and ensuring environmental quality. This challenge is relevant for health and social care providers, regional governments and local municipalities, regional economic development agencies, SMEs and end-users.
In this context, the main areas of our expertise of HCN are: