Health systems after COVID-19

A perspective on the future of European health systems

COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented shock to European healthcare systems, leaving no components unaffected. But impacts will be felt long after the pandemic subsides, creating new patterns of health demands that systems must prepare for. In such a complex environment, the challenge is knowing where to focus, and which strategic priorities should guide healthcare system transformation.

Based on research and consultation with leading European experts, PwC Switzerland and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) have identified key goals and strategic directions that should be pursued by European health systems going forward to provide the population with the quality care they deserve at all times.

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Strengthening the focus on prevention and early care will help preserve individual and population wellbeing, and improve system resilience alongside the evolving demand for healthcare.

By exploring future health and technology trends, healthcare systems will be able to respond to population’s evolving needs with minimal disruptions.

Leveraging the current momentum around e-health, decision makers should promote measures to strengthen digital infrastructure and incentives around remote care delivery.

Designing and co-creating care delivery around people and their needs will improve the patient experience, and rebuild trust in healthcare systems.


Prevention and early care

Enable innovation around interception, screening, prevention, and early-stage care

The shift from treatment to prevention requires the strengthening and upgrading of tools and skills. To achieve better outcomes, European healthcare systems and stakeholders should work jointly to shape and enable the delivery of relevant innovation to patients.

Integrated services

Enable the development and uptake of integrated services in primary care settings

In the future, care models should be built around patients (especially chronic ones), which will require a better integration of different disciplines and services, but also innovative payment models to reward efficient care pathways.

Population needs

Assess future healthcare needs

By monitoring and modelling epidemiological trends, risk factors, socioeconomic context, as well as “scanning” for emerging technologies, forward-looking decisions can be taken around investments and resource needed to improve population outcomes.

Clinical trials

Enable the continuity of clinical trials

To mitigate potential future disruptions, a set of measures around data access and collection should be taken proactively so that clinical trials can be executed remotely.

Digital strategy

Strengthen the digital infrastructure, with a focus on data governance harmonisation

Going forward, European countries need to strengthen infrastructural investments, and harmonise processes and standards to drive efficiency and bring to life the future European Health Data Space.

Incentives to e-health

Develop financial incentives to foster the delivery of e-health services

Pushed by the pandemic, virtually all countries had to implement financial incentives to support telemedicine and remote care. Such incentives should be reviewed and refined to support e-care delivery in a sustainable fashion.


Support HCP upskilling

Healthcare professional  training should be expanded to include skills around e-health and patient data management, but also crisis preparedness and communication to support system response and transformation.

Health literacy

Invest in people's health literacy, especially for high-risk populations

Healthcare systems and communities should invest in establishing trusted communication channels for vulnerable individuals, and listen to their experience to shape services for better outcomes.

Responding to COVID-19 and future pressure to healthcare systems will require different stakeholders getting together around critical strategic themes. The whole study period has proven very fertile for us in building new relationships. We aim to kick-start initiatives that build on the synergies triggered by those relationships!

EFPIA and PwC encourage anyone with ideas for implementing initiatives relevant to the strategic directions we identified to reach out to us.

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Stay tuned 

We will keep investigating the European health policy landscape, and share new content with the community starting from the Fall. Stay tuned on new events to be announced soon!


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Contact us

Dominik Hotz

Dominik Hotz

Managing Partner, Advisory and Consulting Leader, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 53 09

Ömer  Saka, MD

Ömer Saka, MD

Partner, Advisory Health Industries, PwC Switzerland

Claudia Vittori, PhD

Claudia Vittori, PhD

Senior Manager, Advisory Health Industries, PwC Switzerland