The following content was first published on EU Commission official website

According to a recently published study, European patients are still generally unaware of their rights and the possibility to access health services in other EU Member States, as well as of the existence of National Contact Points (NCPs). But the situation is improving.

National Contact Points (NCPs) aim to help patients exercise their rights under the Cross-border Healthcare Directive. But how can they improve their work?

Using a combination of research methods, including a literature review, an analysis of legal texts, a website analysis, a pseudo-patient investigation, and surveys of NCPs and patients, the aim of the study carried out by Ecorys, KU Leuven and GfK Belgium was to identify how to improve the current level of information on cross-border healthcare available to patients.

Websites

The study found that although the information available to patients on NCP websites was adequate, the websites themselves need improvements, especially the sections on patients’ rights (for incoming patients), quality and safety standards (for incoming patients) and reimbursement of cross-border healthcare costs (for outgoing patients).

However, compared to the results of the earlier Evaluative study(fieldwork carried out in 2014), the NCPs have made significant progress in this area.

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Toolbox and training material

This study has also resulted in the development of a practice-orientated toolbox and training material to help the NCPs improve the quality of information for patients, as well as a set of Guiding Principles and indicators for establishing an NCP service that is more uniform, patient-centred and in line with the legal requirements. This will contribute to high level information provision to patients.

The study feeds into the upcoming implementation report on the operation of the Cross-border Healthcare Directive due this October.

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