The economic crisis has significantly impacted health and social care sector with serious consequences. Taking into account the increasing austerity measures and disruptive models to reform healthcare systems throughout the EU, digital health policy research is of paramount importance to support the nursing profession in implementing integrated and continuity of care. Upscaling implies an end-user co-design based on nursing research evidence of what works and what doesn’t. The EU strategy/roadmap for deployment of integrated care must be based on a reliable research evidence from operational frontline best practices.
Within this context, and nurses being the single largest and most trusted health professional group, delivering the majority of health and social care across countries and settings, nursing research becomes key to develop effective, accessible and resilient health and social ecosystems in Europe. As such, nursing research has to be acknowledged as an integral part of building a healthier and competitive Europe; research capacity for nursing has to be prioritised at both European and National levels; and, the European Commission and the European Parliament need to support nursing research by developing closer partnerships with the European Nursing Research Foundation (ENRF).
But for more than two decades after the Council of Europe Recommendations on Nursing Research (1996) Europe has still some way to go if its Social Pillar objectives are to become a reality. A research base in nursing is essential not just for nurses but also for funders of health services and health policy makers. Therefore, we can say that nursing research has become an imperative component in building a healthier and prosperous Europe, and that there are many good nurses’ practices and nursing research results available of which health and social care professionals, citizens and patients could benefit from. Nursing research shows for example that “investing in an appropriate nursing workforce pays off, as it reduces mortality and increases quality of care” (Linda Aiken et al, 2017).
Therefore, looking at the todays challenges in the EU, especially with regard to the economy, demography, migration and welfare, there has never been a more important time to have nursing research informing EU policy-makers, to provide the evidence for a more holistic, continuous, and value-based approach, with nursing research evidence underpinning the co-design of a more people, citizen, and patient driven person-centred care system resourced with a highly qualified, motivated and supported nursing workforce. Universal health coverage cannot possibly be achieved without strengthening and deploying nursing research in policy-making.