The government has previously stated that healthcare export should be encouraged. That combined with the fact that the demand for highly specialized care is increasing around the world should be the recipe for making things moving. But even if Swedish health care ranks high internationally, the country has a very limited share of the total market. So, does Sweden dare to invest in the world’s fastest growing export market?
Following a presentation of research on medical tourism and an example of a successful collaboration with the Icelandic Health Insurance within the area of transplantation, a political debate took place. Representatives from the political boards in the counties of Västra Götaland, Skåne, Uppsala and Stockholm and the national parliament discussed the topic at a seminar held at Dagens Medicin’s health care arena during the annual Almedalen week. They concluded that the export conducted by the Care companies is important to ensure that the university hospitals have an extended patient base useful in the research and development of new treatments. However, they were not keen on investing in creating more capacity to enable an increased volume of international patients. But health care export is not only about patients coming to Sweden for highly specialized treatments, but also about selling medical, management or technical know-how to emerging countries. This type of knowledge transfer on site has the potential to increase significantly according to the board.
It is clear that there is a gap between the government’s statement and the regional political representatives common doubt. So the answer at this point is that yes Sweden dares to invest to enable an increase in export, but primarily in initiatives which are performed outside the country’s borders. A lot remains to be said on this topic. Together with other Care companies and Swecare we look forward to a continuous dialogue with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation in order to, in time, create an environment where Swedish health care export can thrive – something that benefits both swedes and patients from abroad. A win-win situation that leads to a better supply of higly specialized care both here and globally.