Dr. Margret Leosdottir
Department of Cardiology, Skane University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden
Margret is a cardiologist and works primarily with cardiac rehabilitation – i.e. helping patients who have suffered a myocardial infarction to adapt to a healthier lifestyle and treating unfavourable risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Margret is conducting a study on using the LifePod application to help patients in reaching their lifestyle and risk factor targets.
You are working as cardiologist at Skånes university hospital and meet people with serious heart diseases daily. What is your general opinion regarding how the healthcare system works and is structured here in Southern Sweden?
The healthcare system is very large and complex. The way things work has been developed over many years, building up a reliable system with a solid security net. However, because of the healthcare system´s complex structure it is very inflexible and in many ways very old fashioned, as the way things are done is often the same as for 30 years ago.
What are the strong sides of the healthcare system and what has to be improved according to your personal impressions from work at hospital?
The strong side is that it is very reliable. The downside is that it can be very slow. Also, as the healthcare system is made up from hundreds of smaller systems it is far too common that these smaller systems or units either are incompatible or do not communicate at all. This can result in the employers having to adapt their work to the systems, resulting in insufficient use of their time. Also the patients sometimes do not fit into these systems, or they are a part of more than one (i.e. they have two or three different types of diseases) which can create considerable logistic problems for them. You would think that the systems should adapt to the customers (i.e. employees and patients) but unfortunately it usually works the other way around.
Almost daily there are articles in the newspapers describing a dysfunctional healthcare system – not only in Sweden, all over the world! Experts are talking about that healthcare is facing enormous challenges with growing populations, declining resources and increased costs. What are according to your experiences the biggest mistakes?
It is my experience that healthcare employees´ time is very insufficiently used, as we need to adapt our work to all these small and often incompatible systems. As an example, working with a patient at a 30 minute outpatient consultation you may need to access at least 6 different programs or databases to access the patient’s journal data (two separate systems), lab data (separate system), x-ray reports (separate system) and pictures (separate system), medication (two separate systems), sick-leave forms (separate system) and so on. Another problem is that limited resources direct available funds towards treating established illness instead of preventive measures, putting us in a catch 22 situation.
You are doing research on using eHealth solutions for cardiac prevention and rehabilitation. What’s your prospects regarding implementation of eHealth solutions into the traditional healthcare system?
The transition phase might become challenging, as the healthcare system is reluctant to move away from established and well-tested methods, even if they are dysfunctional, towards new ones. We might have to run two parallel systems for a while, which can create extra work load on already overworked healthcare employees.
If you are thinking about the future healthcare system, will eHealth solutions be a natural part of the upcoming way of treating patients? If yes, in what way will we use modern information technology in the health care sector?
It is inevitable – the whole world is moving into a more technical era and the healthcare system needs to do so as well. Patients will not accept anything else – they want to be able to schedule appointments, renew their prescriptions, access their journal and lab-results online. They will want to communicate with their healthcare providers online as well, instead of sitting in waiting rooms or hearing ”you are number 8 in the telephone cue, please wait your turn” as they do today. There is no excuse for us not to hop on the IT-train, the alternative will be too expensive.
Text: Cathrin Jung, Marketing- & CEO assistant