Heart catheterization at the cardiology unit of Eindhoven Catharina Hospital. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke/Brainport Eindhoven

The Dutch healthcare system scores above average in a comparison to 10 other highly developed Western countries, according to new research published today by The Commonwealth Fund, an American think tank in the healthcare sector.

The Commonwealth Fund presents the results to Minister of Health, Welfare & Sport, Edith Schippers during the international Symposium on Health Care Policy.

The International Health Policy Survey 2016 compared the healthcare systems in 11 Western countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Researchers recognized during their presentation that the Dutch healthcare system is “an example of a system that works.”

A coordinated approach with fast access

The Dutch healthcare scores high on, among other things, fast access to care and access to healthcare outside office hours. Dutch citizens have the most freedom to choose their own doctor, and they can be most certain that their doctor has his or her records up to date and accurate. In addition, the waiting times for low-income families are the shortest of all 11 countries.

The comparative study shows that the Netherlands also scores high when it comes to the accessibility of healthcare for people with financial difficulty. The Dutch also score high in the relative limited usage of the emergency room and their short waiting times for specialist medical care. Furthermore, it is noticeable that Dutch patients are least likely to indicate that they have received unnecessary treatments or examinations.

The Netherlands can be found in the middle of the pack when it comes to lifestyle advice, coordinated decisions between doctors and the chronically ill, and the organization of care after the patient is released from the hospital.

“The results of this study confirm my proud feelings when I’m visiting hospitals and health centers in the Netherlands and speak with the doctors, nurses, and patients,” said Minister Schippers. “After all, they are the ones doing a great job. At the same time however, I feel we cannot afford to be complacent. There still is a lot to improve. I suggest we do that, instead of wasting our time with a discussion about our healthcare systems. Other countries – and in this case I am not talking about developing countries – look at our healthcare system enviously.”

About The Commonwealth Fund

The Commonwealth Fund is a private trust/foundation, striving to realize a healthcare system with better access and quality and higher efficiency in the United States. The trust/foundation focuses in particular on the most vulnerable in society, including low-income families, uninsured, minorities, young children, and the elderly. The fund supports independent research and subsidizes in order to improve healthcare policy-wise and in practice.