Starting in 2015, the Swedish government has initiated a national reform to standardize cancer patient pathways and thereby eventually speed up treatment of cancer. Cancer care in Sweden is characterized by high survival rates and a generally high quality albeit long waiting times. The objective with the new national program to standardize cancer care pathways is to reduce these waiting times, increase patient satisfaction with cancer care and reduce regional inequalities. A new time-point for measuring the start of a care process is introduced called well-founded suspicion, which is individually designed for each cancer diagnosis. While medical guidelines are well established earlier, the standardisation is achieved by defining time boundaries for each step in the process. The cancer reform program is a collaborative effort initiated and incentivized by the central government while multi-professional groups develop the time-bound standardized care pathways, which the regional authorities are responsible for implementing. The broad stakeholder engagement and time-bound guidelines are interesting approaches to study for other countries that need to streamline care processes.
A report by the Swedish National Committee on Gender Disparities in Patient Care (1996) identified many shortcomings in the ability of the health sector to gear patient management and treatment to the specific needs of men and women. To promote gender equity in health care, the Committee presented several proposals relating to research, education, monitoring, and evaluation of health services and the responsibilities of health authorities. In 2002, the Swedish Government authorised the National Board of Health and Welfare to review and analyse gender equity trends in health care. Data from, e.g. the national quality registers, epidemiological health data registers, population surveys, and Patient Trust Boards were compiled to identify gender disparities in the quality and accessibility of health services. The curricula of medical universities and the policies of major research funds were reviewed, as were developments in major fields of health research. The National Board found that many of the gender disparities identified in the 1990s still exist, e.g. access to advanced evidence-based technologies such as coronary interventions. As previously, women account for around 60%, and men for 40%, of complaints, e.g. to the Patients' Advisory Committees. Many of the proposals of the National Committee have not been fully implemented by the national authorities or the county councils. We conclude that promoting gender equity in health care is an important but difficult task for health authorities. To make health services more gender sensitive a combination of strategies, including enforcement by guidelines and regulations, may be needed.
In 2015, the Swedish government initiated a national cancer reform program to standardize cancer care pathways. Primary aims included shortened waiting times among patients with suspected cancer, increased patient satisfaction and reduced regional variation. The implementation phase of the program is now more than half way through and both achievements and challenges have been identified. The ongoing evaluation demonstrates that professional engagement and adjustments on the meso- and micro-level of the system are essential to achieving sustainable improvements. Waiting times have shortened for the pathways launched first, and patients are satisfied with a more transparent process. Physicians in primary care are satisfied to inform patients about the pathways but point out problems with comorbidity and complicated diagnostic procedures related to unspecific symptoms. Mechanisms and ethical considerations behind possible crowding-out effects need to be thoroughly highlighted and discussed with staff and management. The results so far appear promising but meso- and micro-levels of the system need to be more involved in the design processes.
Patients' perception of the quality and patient-centredness of healthcare has gained increasing interest in the last decade in Sweden, as in other countries. The purpose of the study was to evaluate to what extent patients perceived Swedish healthcare as patient-centred and to explore the satisfaction levels related to gender, education level and to having or not having Swedish as one's mother tongue.
This study has a cross-sectional design. Analyses were based on the first national patient surveys in Sweden, conducted between 2009 and 2010. The surveys included responses from 232,518 patients who had been in contact with primary, outpatient, inpatient, or emergency care units. Survey questions related to indicators of patient-centred care and sociodemographic variables were selected for the analysis. The patients' level of satisfaction in the selected indicators was analysed and compared by sociodemographic and background factors. Multivariable logistic regression models were used for analysis.
The patients expressed high levels of satisfaction in questions related to the 'Respect' indicator (81-96% satisfied) but lower levels in most of the other indicators of patient-centred care. Only 25-30% of the patients reported they had been told about possible warning signs of their condition or treatment and 58-66% said they had received enough information about their condition. Group differences were detected. The most satisfied patient groups were men, individuals with low levels of education and those with Swedish as their mother tongue.
According to these first national patient surveys, achieving patient-centred healthcare for all citizens is a challenge for Swedish healthcare authorities. Future analyses of national patient surveys should show whether national efforts to encourage acceptance of patient-centred approaches and strategies for equal care will give intended results.
Cites: Health Aff (Millwood). 2001 May-Jun;20(3):244-5211585173
The aims of the present study were: (1) to describe family members' perceptions of nursing homes residents' pain and distress in relation to analgesics and psychotropic drugs; and (2) to compare whether background variables, dementia, help/support, prescribing of analgesics and psychotropic drugs, and quality of care vary between subgroups of residents. Two hundred and thirty-two family members of elderly people in 10 Swedish nursing homes participated in the study. The participants responded to a questionnaire including background variables, pain and distress variables, and the Quality from the Patient's Perspective (QPP) questionnaire. Data on drug prescribing was obtained from the medical records. The head nurse on each ward noted whether or not the resident had a documented or known diagnosis of dementia. The results showed that a high frequency of elderly nursing home residents were estimated as having physical pain and worry. A large number of the residents were prescribed psychotropic drugs. In addition, some of the residents with moderate or severe physical pain were not prescribed any analgesics. The residents were divided into three subgroups based on scores of physical discomfort, physical pain and worry. Subgroup comparisons differed with regard to sex, help/support, drugs and quality of care. Staff have a responsibility to assess the residents' pain and distress since this will form a basis for better pain and distress management. Other suggestions for improving quality of care are the provision of better information to the family members and the residents, meaningful occupation, less task-oriented care, and care that involves residents.