New policy brief on the evaluation of health systems presented at the WHO Tallinn Conference

The brief, developed by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, acts as a proof of concept for a Health Systems Performance Assessment (HSPA) dashboard, signaling the potential development of a policy-friendly tool.

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On 12–13 December 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO)/Europe, the Ministry of Social Affairs of Estonia, and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies jointly organized a high-profile conference titled "Trust and Transformation: Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems for the Future." This event marked the 15th anniversary of the Tallinn Charter: Health Systems for Health and Wealth.

A pivotal contribution during the conference was the presentation of the paper "Assessing Health System Performance: Proof of Concept for a HSPA Dashboard of Key Indicators." This brief not only opens avenues for the development of a policy-friendly dashboard but also sets the stage for policymakers to identify and address critical performance issues.

Key messages from the paper are:

  1. HSPA as a Transformational Tool: Highlighting the Health System Performance Assessment (HSPA) as a crucial tool, the conference emphasized its role in supporting the transformation of health systems. By offering an overview of system performance, policymakers gain insights to pinpoint issues and design effective responses.
  2. Focused Indicator Selection for Policy Impact: The importance of using selected indicators to explain performance and guide policy responses was underscored. Focusing on a subset of critical indicators with policy relevance enhances understanding and trust in the health system, fostering policy change.
  3. Global Frameworks for Action: The WHO-Observatory global HSPA framework and the OECD renewed HSPA framework were discussed as navigational tools for policymakers. Populating these frameworks with policy-relevant indicators makes them actionable and useful in practice, supporting the creation of a policy dashboard.
  4. Tracer Indicators for Priority Domains: Tracer indicators in workforce, digital health, people-centeredness, and service delivery outcomes were highlighted due to their relevance in key policy domains. These indicators are pivotal for high-performing and resilient health systems.
  5. Data Investment for Effective HSPA: The conference emphasized the critical role of investing in data collection to make HSPA work for policy. Allocating resources to enhance data collection, resolving data issues, and developing tools for robust data infrastructure were recognized as essential steps.
  6. Collaborative Approach for Policy Dividends: Making HSPA results more policy-friendly requires continuous effort and collaboration across international organizations such as WHO, OECD, EU, and the Observatory. Aligning methodologies supports policy decision-making and enhances the impact of health system assessments.
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The brief paves the way for the development of a policy-friendly dashboard of key HSPA indicators that will help policy makers to identify and respond to performance issues.