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of the IQCE programme is to improve the quality and performance of European health care systems. Quality of care may be defined as the improvement of health in relation to the best possible outcome that could have been achieved were current medical knowledge applied. Although improving the quality of care is of utmost importance for European health care systems, previous research provides too little evidence about areas that lack quality of care. Thus, the ETN programme focuses on health economic research to “Improving the Quality of Care in Europe”.


is structured around dimensions of quality of care defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).  According to the WHO, quality of care has six dimensions that need to be improved:

  • (a) effectiveness, i.e., delivering health care so that it adheres to an evidence base and results in improved health outcomes for individuals and communities based on need;
  • (b) efficiency, i.e., delivering health care within a competitive or regulatory framework that optimizes resource use and avoids waste;
  • (c) access,  i.e., delivering health care that is timely, geographically reasonable, and provided in a setting where skills and resources are appropriate to medical needs,
  • (d) acceptability to the patient, i.e., delivering health care that considers the preferences and aspirations of individual service users and the cultures of their communities;
  • (e) equitability, i.e., delivering health care that does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, geographical location or socioeconomic status; and (f) safety, i.e., delivering health care that minimises risks and harm to service users.

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