HealthQuest – Quality in and equality of access to healthcare services

Programme: European Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (2007-2013)
Project Status: COMPLETED

What aims and scope

To identify and analyse barriers to accessing healthcare, particularly for vulnerable people at risk of social exclusion, and review policy initiatives taken by Member States to meet the objective of equitable access for all.

How it became possible 

The 12-month project undertook different actions to meet the objectives above, including:

  • Identifying and analysing barriers to access to health care services which are faced by vulnerable groups in society, and especially those most exposed to social exclusion
  • Examining the barriers that stem from health service supply as well as from the demand side
  • Exploring the extent to which the organisation of healthcare systems ease or reinforce such barriers, particularly on the demand side
  • Reviewing the various policy initiatives taken by the Member States to realise the objective of access for all
  • Highlighting and describing the most effective policy measures to ensure access to health care to the most disadvantaged;
  • Helping to determine the extent to which increased access to and quality of health care services can make in combating poverty and social exclusion and increasing social inclusion

After this series of activities, the consortium used one particular vulnerable group (those with mental illnesses) to develop an in-depth analysis that would bring together the interplay of different dimensions of health problems, barriers and risk of social exclusion. The study would shed light on the impact of the conclusions reached during the project.

Where EHMA delivered

EHMA led the organisation of HealthQuesst and ensured that prompt and comprehensive delivery of relevant documentation and findings would occur. EHMA executed its capacities with the scientific direction of the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research.



EU logoThis study is supported by the European Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (2007-2013). This programme is managed by the Directorate-General for Employment, social affairs and equal opportunities of the European Commission. It was established to financially support the implementation of the objectives of the European Union in the employment and social affairs area, as set out in the Social Agenda, and thereby contribute to the achievement of the Lisbon Strategy goals in these fields. Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission may be held responsible for the use that may be made of the information contained in this publication or associated pages. 


HealthQuest provided an extensive and insightful report with an executive summary to:

  • Outline the policy context and methodology of the project
  • Examine the specific studied barriers, including coverage, cost-sharing, health literacy and supply-side responsiveness
  • Analyse the specific problems affecting selected groups at particular risk of social exclusion

This document can inform policymaking and raise other topics worth studying more in-depth. 

At the same time, you can make the most of country reports and their observations:


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What our Members say

I have been active in EHMA since the first years of the '90s and I have seen its evolution from a small association of members interested in sharing knowledge on health management practices to the current status of reference and advisory key player for EU, health systems and organisations, stakeholders associations, industry and universities. EHMA is now a unique knowledge hub, policy advisor, community of practice and network of best in class organisations involved in health policy and management. A place where health managers can build their competences, policy-makers and stakeholder associations envision how to implement and sustain change through health management, industry leaders understand how to engage more effectively with health organisations and systems. The right place to nurture and grow health management capabilities and capacity for every stakeholder of health systems.

Prof. Federico Lega, University of Milan, Italy

Health management has a crucial function in shaping public health and health system challenges. The Medical University of Varna, Bulgaria had success in collaborating with EHMA on EU-funded projects that has resourced us to create new health management competencies for the future workforce. In addition to all classical definitions, health management is a science dealing with individuals, groups, and society at large. It is an art contributing to the beauty of our lives and an interactive communication process at all levels of institutions and human energy. I have also had the pleasure to chair the South Eastern European Special Interest Group which gives members a space to discuss and tools to address how health systems are managed in our regions.

Prof. Todorka Kostadinova, Medical University of Varna, Bulgaria

I enjoy the high level of interaction and engagement in EHMA’s activities, in particular during the annual conference where the panel discussions are rich and well prepared. As a hospital manager and professor of health management, EHMA motivates and inspires me to be creative. You go back home feeling energised from seeing old friends and making new connections, as well as being convinced of serving as EHMA’s ambassador. It’s a strong feeling of interdisciplinary engagement, but it also feels like being part of family-like community.

Prof. Sandra C. Buttigieg, University of Malta, Malta

EHMA is a pre-eminent organisation for everyone working in planning, managing and delivering health services across Europe. As a long standing member of EHMA I have always been impressed by the vibrant community of managers, researchers and academics it has created and by the many opportunities for sharing knowledge and funding opportunities it has brought to its members. Its international scope is impressive and its impact is often felt in management and research across European and national health systems.

Prof. Axel Kaehne, Edge Hill University, UK

Health workforce has become more essential in operating, managing and maintaining health systems lately, particularly in crisis and emergency situations. European healthcare professions and the workforce need to be high on the agenda of managers and decision makers. The Health Services Management Training Centre, Semmelweis University in Hungary is a longstanding EHMA member, because it connects us with collaborators and experts, with whom we can have complex debates, from whom we can learn and at the end find solutions in various challenging fields of healthcare management.

Dr Eszter Kovács, Health Services Management Training Centre, Semmelweis University, Hungary

As a hospital administrator and health management professor, I see on a daily basis that the healthcare challenges require talented and skilled managers to transform it. the EHMA membership has been beneficial to bring healthcare management research and education to the demanding healthcare services world, promoting healthcare management competencies and knowledge creation.

Dr Alexandre Lourenco, APAH - Association of Portuguese Hospital Managers, Portugal

Many healthcare systems in Europe and beyond are facing similar challenges which require innovative and creative solutions. EHMA’s annual conference, webinars, Programme Directors’ group and other activities and resources provide incredible opportunities for networking, connecting and sharing experiences. A distinct feature of EHMA is the diversity of members with representation from many countries, sectors and different communities of practice – academic, policy-makers, practitioners, managers, leaders and students. The annual conference is a highlight in the calendar year, offering a friendly, fun and learningful environment for emerging and established members to engage, collaborate and meet up with old and new friends. I am proud to be a member of the EHMA Board.

Prof. Ann Mahon, University of Manchester, UK

Society evolution, pandemics and ageing modify health needs. So, health policies and services are to change dramatically. EHMA, through webinars, workshops and annual conference provides an excellent insight to a professional changing world, favouring closeness to management innovation and the protagonists of these changes. As a primary care services’ manager, participating in EHMA activities is really worth it and allows to involve oneself in the innovation processes.

Dr Antoni Peris Grao, Consorci Castelldefels Agents de Salut (CASAP), Spain