We Need To Keep People As Healthy As Possible For As Long As Possible

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by Bogi Eliasen, Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, Health Director

Sustainability in healthcare goes way beyond disposable gowns. A sustainable healthcare system requires a balanced consumption of resources to benefit all, including future generations. I will address the sustainable consumption in healthcare as the keynote speaker at the Sustainable Nordic Healthcare webinar.

The postulate ‘We need to feel good to do good’ is behind this way of thought. In this logic, we need to become healthy first, to be able to do good, including achieving sustainability in healthcare. This premise for sustainability requires comprehensive political and ethical discussions. I believe that the health service’s most important task is to keep the population healthy and self-reliant for as long as possible. And that requires significant investments in prevention.

According to the Danish Health Authority, 10 percent of the citizens are responsible for spending more than 70 percent health expenditure by regional authorities in the country. Today we spend most health resources on people who have fallen ill. I believe that the funds should be divided 50/50, so that half of the total health expenditure is spent on prevention, on primary, but also on secondary prevention. We need to keep people as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Of course, it is a very sensitive topic in the national and regional politics, but we have to discuss where to use available resources best, to support next generations.

Recruiting new colleagues when needed is one of healthcare’s main challenges. Here the redistribution of resources may be employed as well. We should focus on getting fewer patients than getting a thousand extra nurses. Quite a few technologies and solutions have been developed for prevention. Further, we have accumulated enormous amounts of data that may help with early detection of disorders, to prevent them require care. The aim is to have fewer people who need care.

A healthier population is the answer to achieving sustainability in healthcare. There is a need for a fundamental shift from sick care to preventive health to ensure the longevity of our healthcare systems and improved quality of life. The Nordic Health 2030 Movement is one such initiative by Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. The Nordic Health 2030 Movement was inspired by the gathering of over 30 leading decision makers across the Nordics during 2019, who all acknowledged the need for and the value in turning towards preventive health and agreed to develop a collaborative network for achieving this goal. CIFS and other project partners now embark on Nordic Heath Movement 2030 Stage 2, where sustainable health systems are at the core.

What do you think? Join the discussion and hear more proposals for solutions at the Sustainable Nordic Healthcare webinar on September 22, 2022