Picture: Lehtikuva / Roope Salonen
A major EU project in the field of healthcare has started at Forum Virium Helsinki. The theme of the project is very attractive, as the Managed Outcomes project aims to improve the efficiency of healthcare. The ageing population will mean increased demand for health services, but there will not be enough supply and resources.
The project assumes that healthcare outcomes and costs are affected by the efficiency of service production, the regional structure of healthcare delivery, and the degree to which people are empowered to participate in the co-production of their care. The Managed Outcomes project aims to provide tools for decision makers for designing healthcare systems based on demand.
"The ageing population, the increased number of retired people, challenges in recruiting young professionals and the present economic recession generate pressure on healthcare and create demand for a new European health strategy. This makes Managed Outcomes an interesting project." states Marianne Dannbom, programme director at Forum Virium Helsinki.
There are ten partners from eight different EU countries involved in this research project, which started in the beginning of January. From Finland there are two partners: Forum Virium Helsinki and the HEMA (Institute of Healthcare Engineering, Management and Architecture) research group at the Aalto University. HEMA is involved in applying operations management in the field of health services.
"We are eagerly waiting for the results of this project as Managed Outcomes are at the core of our research activities. In our previous projects we have explored the same phenomena in Finland. Now we have the chance to widen our perspective to European level," says researcher Tomi Malmström from the HEMA institute.
Although this is a research project, there is a strong connection between theory and practice. The patient cases bring an understanding of how patient care is managed and how a well functioning care pathway works. The collection of patient cases is going to be one of the core responsibilities of the HEMA institute together with other partners.
"We are going to gather patient cases in six different countries. It is important that the data has enough geographical coverage as the aim is to have a comprehensive view of the present situation of the healthcare systems in different countries," explains Malmström.
New scenarios for European healthcare
Based on the analysis of the patient cases, new scenarios and models will be developed for how to manage the healthcare system in Europe. In addition, different scenarios for the changes of these models will be created. The objective is to provide decision makers with tools for balancing the supply of and demand for healthcare services in the future.
"It is obvious that we need several models as European healthcare systems vary a lot. The models will not be country-dependent, but more based on the different healthcare systems. For example countries with public healthcare will have a different type of model than countries with private healthcare", Dannbom remarks.
Extensive international consortium
The project will be financed for three years with a budget of 3.6 million euros. The contribution of the European Commission is 3 million euros. The project is being funded by the seventh framework programme. The proposal received a high assessment from the EU evaluation as the consortium was regarded as such a strong one.
"We have partners from all the major EU countries except Italy. One of the main research partners is the Erasmus University, a well-known European university in healthcare management. In addition there are leading consultant companies with very special know-how and HOPE (the European Hospital and Healthcare Federation), which has local and regional healthcare authorities and regional healthcare service providers from 38 European countries as its members," says Dannbom.
HOPE will play an important role when the project starts disseminating its results to decision makers. Its main interest is to expand its knowledge of the new tools and new practices.
New project coordinator at Forum Virium Helsinki
Forum Virium Helsinki is responsible for the project management and is involved in the Finnish patient selection. Elina Saarimaa was appointed as project coordinator in January. Her previous employment includes working at the Government EU Secretariat as advisor for EU affairs. Apart from the management tasks Elina will be responsible for communication and reporting to the European Commission.
"I am enthusiastic about our project as the work is done in such an important field and I believe that with the results we do have a chance to make a difference to how the healthcare system will function in the future”, explains project coordinator Saarimaa.
Text: Kaisa Eskola