Introduction

It is sometimes said that data is "the new oil". Even though some of the expectations about the possibilities of data are unrealistic and utopian, it is clear that an intelligent approach to collecting, processing, linking and analysing data has become an indispensable part of the strategy of every organisation; policy organisations are no exception.

The Directorate-General for Healthcare of the FPS HFCSE historically has a lot of data on the domains of hospitals, emergency medical care, healthcare professionals and mental healthcare. If we continue the metaphor of data as "the new oil", we sometimes hear the remark and the criticism that the focus in recent decades has often been more on pumping up the oil than on refining it and preparing it for the market and its users.

In 2017, in response to this criticism in particular, a comprehensive exercise was carried out within the DG Healthcare to work out how we could improve our data policy. One of the strategic lines that resulted from this exercise was better access to and exploitation of our data. A new product that was targeted within this strategy was the development of 'policy briefings' - or 'Key-data' - that would contain key figures in a comprehensible manner and put them into perspective regarding the domains mentioned above.

These eye-catchers are intended to be situated at a more detailed level than already existing initiatives such as the report of the KCE on the performance of our health system, of which the FPS is a partner, and at the same time with a more comprehensive view on a specific domain than e.g. detailed reports from our DG or other organisations that focus on a specific phenomenon within a relevant domain.

You are holding the first edition of this eye-catcher in your hands. Its focus is on hospitals, and general hospitals in particular. It is a modest first attempt to give readers with a certain prior knowledge of healthcare and the hospital landscape an overview of the data we have at our disposal in a comprehensible manner, in order to enhance their understanding of our hospital sector. Our target group is broad: political policymakers, civil servants at various levels of government, the field of work of healthcare institutions and health professionals, health insurance funds and patient organisations, the social partners, researchers and consultants, etc.

The approach is not evaluative or normative in nature. In the first instance, the Key-data is intended to show a number of key figures, accurately describe them and highlight a number of trends. Some figures require additional interpretation. These are ripe for debate. In future editions, we will examine how some of these interpretative elements can be incorporated to further increase the added value of the Key-data.

Finally, it is not the intention for the Key-data to remain an "isolated initiative". Certain data and key figures are available from our partners in the government and knowledge institutions. We would like to explore with the latter how our project and their initiatives can be linked in the spirit of cooperation and sharing.  

We wish you happy reading and look forward to your feedback.

Pedro Facon

Director-General Healthcare