The ability to react quickly is key to emergency healthcare. Hence, smooth cross-border emergency healthcare is a major contribution to better quality of life for people living in border regions.

This is why the European Union (EU) encourages easy access to health care facilities and stronger cross-border cooperation for healthcare. Despite existing European legal frameworks to facilitate medical treatment across borders, cross-border (emergency) healthcare in the Danube Region entails a lot more.

Hence, Priority Area 10 “Institutional Capacity and Cooperation” aims at fostering mutual learning and capacity building for cross-border emergency healthcare in the Danube Region with a special focus on the following questions:

  • How can partner countries set up feasible legal frameworks for healthcare cooperation inside and outside of the European Union?
  • How can cooperating partners harmonise or jointly develop administrative healthcare procedures?
  • Which standards for medical equipment do we need to establish and which technologies facilitate cross-border cooperation?
  • How can cooperating partners overcome the language barrier and establish trust in the quality of cross-border emergency healthcare?
Legal Framework
The legal framework covers aspects like legal security for doctors, paramedics and other medical staff, derogation of national laws and legal requirements, patient protection, reimbursement of costs, liability and compensation as well as dispute procedures. While some of these topics are covered by EU directives, concrete cross-border cooperation needs more detailed legal clarifications or – in the case of cooperation with accession countries – a more thorough legal foundation.
Close cross-border cooperation for healthcare also means to look at standards for equipment for facilities such as ambulance cars. Since legal requirements vary across countries, cooperating countries need to develop joint standards or minimum requirements for emergency healthcare. Furthermore, cross-border technologies for cross-border healthcare include aspects such as Dispatch Centre Systems or the launch of a joint communication software to bridge language barriers (among/between medical staff and patients) as well as developing joint data exchange systems.
Administration of healthcare cooperation across borders requires clarification about competences of ambulance and healthcare services. This also includes the implementation of cooperation processes between different institutional settings that provide emergency healthcare. Likewise, the cooperation partners need to develop joint emergency protocols or harmonise administrative procedures regarding service provision, exchange of data or coordination mechanisms.
Socio-cultural aspects of cross-border emergency healthcare build another foundation. Challenges like language barriers or lack of trust in the quality of healthcare across the border can be major factors to hamper successful cross-border service provision. Hence, solutions to facilitate communication, establishing cross-border cooperation networks and developing joint trainings for medical staff can be implemented to strengthen the trust of patients into medical services and among medical staff on either side of the border.

Initiatives in the Danube Region

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Healthacross for Future
The cross-border project focuses on harmionising the efforts of the Austrian and Czech healthcare systems for the regions Gmünd (AT) and Ceske Velenice (CZ) in order to get equal access to healthcare. Within the cooperation , Austria and Czechia endorsed a two-level bilateral agreement and a communication software system. to bridge the language barrier.
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As a pioneering project in the field of health care between Austria and Hungary, the aim of the HEAL NOW project is to lay the foundations for a long-term cooperation. In this spirit, the cooperation works towards developing a joint legal framework and technological cooperation between hospitals in the area of digital pathology.
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Bilateral Agreement Croatia-Slovenia
In July 2023, Croatia and Slovenia signed a bilateral agreement on cross-border cooperation in the provision of emergency medical assistance, reflecting the committment to enhance healthcare services between the two countries.

Our Activities

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Expert Round Table
At the online expert round table on 13 February 2024, the task force members had the chance to get first-hand information on the practical implementation of cross-border emergency healthcare services and healthcare policies.
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Study Visit Healthacross MED Gmünd
On 25 April 2024, the PA10 Steering Group visited Healthacross MED Gmünd, a healthcare facility for patients living at the Austrian-Czech border and gained more insights into the functioning of cross-border healtcare provision.
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Extended Steering Group Meeting
On 28 February 2023, Priority Area 10 organised a so-called Extended Steering Group Meeting (Task Force Meeting) to define concrete areas of intervention for cross-border emergency healthcare to support existing initiatives and facilitate capacity building for new ones.
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EWRC Workshop
We organised a workshop on cross-border emergency healthcare at the European Week for Regions and Cities focussing on various aspects to ensure high quality healthcare and to enter into dialogue with different stakeholders across Europe.
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EUSDR Flagship 2023
The Cross-border Emergency Healthcare Danube Region initiative has been selected for a EUSDR Flagship project 2023. Thereby, the initiative illustrates its significant role in implementing the EU Danube Strategy and progress in the region through cooperation.