May 30, 2015

Health on Export

Is Swedish healthcare ready to take on the world? That was the main theme of a seminar organized recently by newspaper Dagens Medicin and Sahlgrenska I.C. together with Swecare and partner Care companies.

State secretary Agneta Karlsson
State secretary Agneta Karlsson

– Yes, says Agneta Karlsson, State Secretary to the Minister for Healthcare, Public Health and Sport and Key note speaker of the day. While adding that Swedish export is one of the Government’s focus areas. A more offensive export strategy is said to be underway and is expected to be presented in June.

Anders Ekholm, Deputy director of the Institute for Futures Studies
Anders Ekholm, Deputy director of the Institute for Futures Studies

Anders Ekholm, Deputy Director of the Institute for Futures Studies, countered with a “no” referring to the World Value survey showing that Sweden, permeated by a individualistic approach, differs from most other countries. He emphasized the importance of incorporating cultural awareness in export strategies. There is no “one size fits all”. An important factor that indeed has a direct impact on how successful a country’s healthcare export is, concludes professor Erik Borg and colleague Frank- Michael Kirsch. Their research project “Sweden’s challenges and possibilities within medical tourism” shows that the global market for healthcare export is growing – and fast.

Erik Borg, Professor Södertörns högskola
Erik Borg, Professor Södertörns högskola

– Swedish healthcare has a close to parodically good reputation abroad, says Frank-Michael Kirsch. This leads to the conclusion that Sweden has the potential to win a considerably larger market share than today. How should the country go about to make this a reality? The public university hospitals need to be more market wise in order to develop attractive offers for international clients.

UK and Austria are two examples of European countries that have been successful in this area. Both countries were represented at the seminar and shared their respective healthcare export strategies. UK has created “Healthcare UK” – a single gateway into the UK network of industry, NHS and academia. This collaboration model is one of the main factors behind the success according to Jenny Gardner from the Brithish Embassy in Stockholm. The day ended with a political debate between representatives from Region Västra Götaland, Stockholm County Council and Uppsala County Council. The panel agreed on that healthcare export is vital in order for us to continue to provide world class higly specialized care in Sweden in the years to come. But we can not offer everything, a selection has to be made. Going forward, the politics need to be clearer on the level of ambition within this area.

Daniel Forslund (Fp) Stockholm County Council, Vivianne Macdisi (S) Uppsala County Council, Jonas Andersson (Fp) Region Västra Götaland
Daniel Forslund (Fp) Stockholm County Council, Vivianne Macdisi (S) Uppsala County Council, Jonas Andersson (Fp) Region Västra Götaland

Sahlgrenska I.C. is looking forward to a continous dialogue with stakeholders on a national and regional level – together we can create better conditions so that Swedish healthcare export can thrive.

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