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BACKGROUND: Many policy makers and other stakeholders in the EU have expressed interest in better understanding the performance of their own health systems to identify opportunities for improvement in effectiveness, efficiency and equity. Health system performance assessment (HSPA) has received considerable attention at EU level as an instrument to improve transparency and accountability. This is equally important for population health and sustainable health spending. The goal of this paper is to synthesise and map the current state and developments in the field of HSPA relevant in the EU context and by this aid the navigation in the growing HSPA system, understand the available tools and identify opportunities for improvement. METHODS: Structured synthesis of the literature on initiatives in the field of HSPA at EU level was carried out. Key literature was identified by a focused review performed between October 2015 and June 2016 on websites of key institutions including the EU, OECD and WHO and Google engine. We used six predefined criteria for identifying key literature. Identified initiatives were classified according to analytical and conceptual output or whether a guiding or advisory role was resumed. A visual map of the relationships between the different actions and actors involved in HSPA was developed. In addition, expert opinion was sought to refine the map. RESULTS: We identified a total of 64 relevant initiatives and their relationships in the field of HSPA. These include institutions such as the European Commission (73%), European Council (8%), OECD (9%) and WHO-EUR (9%). 24 initiatives produced analytical outputs, four developed conceptual outputs and six had a guiding role. The role of the EU in HSPA and collaboration with other key actors have intensified considerably since the adoption of the EU Health Strategy in 2013. The EU HSPA landscape is complex with seemingly few streamlining activities. CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge transfer and exchange of expertise are key to HSPA. While cooperation between the key actors have intensified recently and clearly reflect the "Health in all Policies" (HIAP) approach, there is considerable room for improved streamlining activities to share knowledge and avoid overlapping efforts, especially within the European Commission.

Original publication




Journal article


Arch Public Health

Publication Date





European Union, Health information, Health system performance assessment, International comparisons, Policy making, Public health indicators