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Ulla Närhi: Well-functioning healthcare services support the wellbeing of Europeans

Publication date 26.9.2019 16.50
Photo: Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

Healthcare systems in Finland and across Europe are facing similar challenges. How to organise healthcare and social services for the rapidly ageing population? Or, how to identify and harness innovation to ensure people’s wellbeing?

These are  some of the themes on the agenda at the Joint Meeting of Health and Pharmaceutical Sector Chief Officers in September. The meeting is  attended by leading experts in medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmaceuticals from EU member states and Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, and it is the first of its kind in such an extended composition.

Healthcare services contribute to sustainable development

Well-functioning healthcare services play a crucial role in ensuring people’s wellbeing. The UN 2030 sustainable development goals on health and wellbeing emphasise the importance of ensuring healthy lives and promoting the wellbeing at all ages – these are essential elements of sustainable development.

The principles of sustainable development include the identifying and harnessing of innovation. Often the best innovations are combinations of old and new ideas, such as linking of old concepts to new technologies or to transformed operating environments.

This is also reflected in the reorganisation of the Finnish healthcare and social services system. Its driving principles are digital transformation, integration of healthcare and social services and equal access to care for all.

People with complex service needs benefit from multidisciplinary teams

We need collaboration between professionals and sharing of best practices to build well-functioning healthcare and social services. This is the idea behind organising a joint meeting of health and pharmaceutical sector chief officers during Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Healthcare and social services for older people are a highly topical issue across the EU, and there are many good examples of successful service integration by means of digital and remote services.

Multidisciplinary collaboration is of particular importance for people with complex service needs. Individuals who need many different kinds of healthcare and social services usually also need many oral health services.

One means of improving access to care is to extend the roles of nurses. A number of member states have already extended the roles of nurses by granting them the right to prescribe medicines, among other tasks.

In pharmaceutical innovation, it is now important to have sufficient data for assessing the therapeutic and economic value of medicines. Assessments of the therapeutic value of medicines can deploy real-world data, collected from patient records and registers, and real-world evidence obtained from such data.

Ulla Närhi, Senior Specialist, Permanent representation of Finland to the EU