2017 Health Ministerial Meeting: The Next Generation of Health Reforms - closing remarks


2017 OECD Health Ministerial Meeting: The Next Generation of Health Reforms

Closing remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD 

OECD, Paris, 17 January 2017 


Dear Secretary Hunt, Ministers, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen:


Today, we have taken stock of the strengths and weaknesses of our health systems, reflected on the challenges and the opportunities, and taken important steps towards developing a new vision for the future of health. Let me briefly summarise our main conclusions.


A day of dialogue


We began by tackling a very timely topic ─ ineffective health spending and waste. Our data tells us that as much as one fifth of health spending is wasted and makes no difference to people’s health! If we don’t tackle ineffective spending, we are undermining our own efforts to deliver more effective, resilient and accessible health systems. In this context, you agreed that the guiding principle of health systems must be people ─ their physical and mental health, and the continuity of their care.


In the breakout sessions, you discussed how to make the most of new technologies with a focus on delivering access to high-cost treatments and personalised medicine while ensuring financial sustainability; capitalising on the opportunities provided by big data while safeguarding citizens’ privacy; and modernising the health workforce of the future. 


These discussions helped us to define a new vision for the future of health, based on three principles:

  • First, the health systems of tomorrow must be people-centred. Patients’ expectations are rising, and their needs must be put front and centre when discussing issues such as the governance of health systems and how best to deliver each person’s care.
  • Second, the health systems of tomorrow must be adaptable and agile to meet changing population needs and respond to technological developments. Ageing populations, the growing burden of chronic disease, and emerging antimicrobial resistance require new models of care, new professional roles and new innovations.
  • Third, the health systems of tomorrow must be knowledge-driven. Better and richer data, which can be used to inform health system governance, will be key to making health systems effective and sustainable.  


The Future of Health: The OECD’s role


Having set this vision, you called on the OECD to help deliver it. And we will work with you every step of the way.


Securing people-centred health systems will depend, first and foremost, upon understanding what matters and what works for patients. You asked the OECD to help develop new metrics to understand how successful health systems are in making people and patients the true partners of health services. And we will respond by developing internationally comparable patient-reported indicator surveys: PaRIS. We hope PaRIS will become the new “PISA for health”, a key benchmarking tool for knowledge-driven health systems to assess what really matters for people.


Delivering adaptable, agile health systems will depend on our ability to embrace more modern delivery models. The OECD will continue to advise you on mechanisms to balance the costs and opportunities of high-cost drugs and new technologies. Our discussions today confirmed that this complex issue requires further analysis and consultation, including with industry and patients. When it comes to the health workforce, we will focus on developing policies to secure the right health sector jobs, with the right skills in the right places. In this respect, we will continue to work closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to implement the recommendations of the UN High‑Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, including the establishment of a new platform on health workforce international mobility.


Developing knowledge-driven health systems will depend on our ability to use health data more effectively. The OECD is leading the way on managing the potential of health data to improve clinical practice, research, health system management and surveillance. The Council Recommendation on Health Data Governance that you released today reflects international consensus on a set of guiding conditions for governing personal, sensitive health data both domestically and transnationally to achieve these important public goals. We will continue to monitor country progress towards good practice in this field. 


Ladies and Gentlemen: this morning I said that to build the health systems of tomorrow, the hard work starts now. Today, we have begun this work through a very rich, frank and productive discussion. Thank you all for your insights, your candour and your contributions. It is now imperative that we develop this work with the same spirit of determination and collaboration. The OECD looks forward to continuing these efforts with you in the days, months and years to come to design develop and deliver better health policies for better lives.

Thank you.


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