The idea of the creation of a knowledge centre originated from 2002, in the cabinet of Frank Vandenbroucke, the then Minister of Social Affairs and Pensions. KCE was established in 2003 and published its first reports in 2004.
Similar institutions have existed for many years in most industrialised countries such as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom, the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) in France or the Zorginstituut Nederland in the Netherlands.
After all, most western countries have similar challenges for the organisation and financing of health care. Everywhere, health care spending is rapidly growing due to several well-known reasons:
- the aging of the population causing increasing health care needs;
- new technologies and drugs are often very expensive and create supply-induced demand;
- the general public is increasingly demanding rapid and affordable access to sophisticated health care;
- Health care personnel are becoming more expensive, while the need for health care personnel will still increase in the future
In Belgium, budgetary constraints limit increase in healthcare budgets and the governmental agreement stipulates that this limitation must:
- respect the therapeutic freedom of healthcare providers
- respect the freedom of choice of patients
- not undermine the quality of healthcare
There is therefore very little room for manoeuvre for healthcare policymakers.
Finally, as citizens circulate more freely between European Union member states, it is also important to observe the functioning of the health care systems in other countries in order to work towards harmonisation.