The Summer School of the European Observatory was organized in collaboration with the Veneto Region and took place on the island of San Servolo, Venice, between 3 and 8 August 2008. The focus for 2008’s Summer School was on “Hospital Reengineering”. The sessions explored how hospitals interact with the rest of the health and care systems and with the communities around them. The implications of the relationships with other actors (including patient, and consumer groups) were addressed as well as the repercussions for the division of labour and internal organization. It helped to understand and show how to support seamless links between services; and how to identify, plan for and manage hospitals' place in health and care systems. The course raised key issues, utilised experience from across Europe, shared participants’ insights, developed a greater understanding of how evidence and context interact and build networks. The emphasis on participative approaches complemented the some formal teaching. The School was directed by Reinhard Busse, with Nigel Edwards as co-director. 65 individuals from 27 countries took part to the school; participants were drawn from policy-makers and senior and mid-level professionals from ministries, public health bodies, insurance funds, NGOs, WHO country offices and other organizations.