The rapidly changing and ageing society and the occurrence of health emergencies are urging countries to efficiently respond to increasing burdens on their health and care systems, and deliver on their common commitment to high-quality health and care services. Furthermore, our systems share challenges that require harmonised and coordinated solutions, devised through a process that allows all stakeholders involved in health and care systems to design, research and implement such issues in a timely manner.
Within this context, we need to identify how health and care systems can achieve such harmonised responses. This Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) defines the framework on which the Partnership for transforming health and care systems (THCS) is set to respond to this context, building on its solid background, existing key initiatives in the field, and common vision: to maintain and improve people’s health in Europe and participating countries by supporting the transformation of health and care systems to achieve high-quality, fairly accessible, sustainable, efficient, resilient and inclusive health and care systems for all.
To move towards the realisation of its vision, the Partnership will focus on its ambition to address and trigger global and long-term changes in the complex health and care research and innovation ecosystems. More specifically, the objective will be reached by embracing the whole knowledge and innovation cycle, with a specific focus on the need to foster implementation, inform policy and practice, and provide the necessary inputs for improving health and care capacity. This will be achieved through a Partnership in which all stakeholders can work together to stimulate and nurture research and innovation activities.
As indicated in Chapter 3 of this SRIA, the achievement of the abovementioned goal will be enshrined in a series of specific objectives to be achieved by 2030: increase funding opportunities and strengthen the research and innovation community; fill knowledge gaps; increase the ability to implement innovation; intensify cooperation among countries and beyond healthcare; and increase stakeholders’ involvement.
These objectives, through a series of specific activities, will seek to deliver clear outcomes. They include: increased engagement of researchers in collaborative research; use of research results to develop evidence-based strategies; implementation of innovative care delivery methods; planning and implementation of efficient investments for novel solutions and models; stronger ecosystems and boosted uptake of innovation; increased digital and health literacy for citizens and professionals; and, ultimately, better cooperation and use of knowledge and evidence across countries. The SRIA also identifies specific impacts for key stakeholder categories, highlighting the concrete improvements the Partnership can bring.
Within such a broad and complex topic, prioritisation and framing are essential. Chapter 4 of the SRIA addresses this issue, identifying clear thematic priorities set against frameworks that include efficiency and sustainability, quality and safety, digitalisation, people needs and user involvements, and the health and care workforce. Such frameworks are closely intertwined with the specific health and care sectors demanding attention and change, including long-term care, primary care, and the redefinition of hospital care.
Chapter 4 also lays out the Partnership roadmap. This is developed around three overarching work streams that address the specific objectives and describe the ambitious outcomes expected within the agreed time frame: filling knowledge gaps; implementing and transferring solutions; and boosting health and care system capabilities. To progress from these work streams to implementation and results, the SRIA also identifies a tentative roadmap with short-, medium- and long-term objectives linked to expected 2030 results.
This leads us to the implementation approach of the Partnership, which is presented in Chapter 5 alongside the organisational structure of the Partnership. In brief, the identification of the problems and challenges to be addressed, together with the definition of any missing knowledge, will help identify the priority topics to be included in the Partnership’s Annual Work Plans. Existing practices will need to be regularly mapped to avoid any duplication of efforts, to help tailor the best actions, and to understand context-based obstacles and barriers to implementation and transfer. Addressing research and innovation funding will be a core issue for the Partnership and sustainable mechanisms for the alignment of resources will be promoted.
Within this framework, the Partnership’s implementation will be guided by a set of principles: joint investments in health and care research and innovation; co-creation, capacity-building and science- policy cooperation across all activities and instruments; the establishment of a knowledge hub for ecosystem development support; international cooperation and broader participation with selected countries in order to compare approaches, test solutions, exploit results, exchange experiences and needs, and support the transfer of knowledge; strategy development to strengthen programme management, dissemination, and exploitation.
Finally, as the Partnership's endeavours will not achieve the desired results on their own, the SRIA maps out the main synergies that the Partnership will seek and foster with other EU initiatives, from Horizon Europe to the EU4Health Programme, covering other important partnership and funding streams such as the Innovative Health Initiative and the European Social Fund+.