A National Asthma Programme was undertaken in Finland from 1994 to 2004 to improve asthma care and prevent an increase in costs. The main goal was to lessen the burden of asthma to individuals and society.
The action programme focused on implementation of new knowledge, especially for primary care. The main premise underpinning the campaign was that asthma is an inflammatory disease and requires anti-inflammatory treatment from the outset. The key for implementation was an effective network of asthma-responsible professionals and development of a post hoc evaluation strategy. In 1997 Finnish pharmacies were included in the Pharmacy Programme and in 2002 a Childhood Asthma mini-Programme was launched.
The incidence of asthma is still increasing, but the burden of asthma has decreased considerably. The number of hospital days has fallen by 54% from 110 000 in 1993 to 51 000 in 2003, 69% in relation to the number of asthmatics (n = 135 363 and 207 757, respectively), with the trend still downwards. In 1993, 7212 patients of working age (9% of 80 133 asthmatics) received a disability pension from the Social Insurance Institution compared with 1741 in 2003 (1.5% of 116 067 asthmatics). The absolute decrease was 76%, and 83% in relation to the number of asthmatics. The increase in the cost of asthma (compensation for disability, drugs, hospital care, and outpatient doctor visits) ended: in 1993 the costs were 218 million euro which had fallen to 213.5 million euro in 2003. Costs per patient per year have decreased 36% (from 1611 euro to 1031 euro).
It is possible to reduce the morbidity of asthma and its impact on individuals as well as on society. Improvements would have taken place without the programme, but not of this magnitude.
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We studied the rates and distribution of cataract surgery throughout Ontario using population-based administrative data.
We identified patients who had had cataract surgery performed between April 1, 1994, and March 31, 2005. We calculated crude cataract surgery rates, overall and regional adjusted rates per 100,000 residents aged 65 and over, and age- and sex-specific rates.
The number of cataract surgeries performed on patients over 65 more than doubled, from 43,818 to 90,183, over the 10-year period and accounted for approximately 81% of all cataract surgeries in Ontario. Age- and sex-adjusted rates varied considerably among health administrative geographic regions. For 2004-2005, rates including all cataract surgeries ranged from 4272 to 6563 cataract surgeries per 100,000 residents aged 65 or older.
There has been a significant increase in the number of cataract surgeries performed over the past decade in Ontario with considerable regional variation. Observed rates were higher than those reported for other countries.
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.
The Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada asked whether Medicare is sustainable in its present form. Well, Medicare is not sustainable for at least six reasons. Given a long list of factors, such as Canada's changing dependency ratio, the phenomenon of diminishing returns from increased taxation, competing provincial expenditure needs, low labour and technological productivity in government-funded healthcare, the expectations held by baby boomers, and the evolving value sets of Canadians--Medicare will impoverish Canada within the next couple of decades if not seriously recast. As distasteful as parallel private-pay, private-choice healthcare may be to some policy makers and providers who grew up in the 1960s, the reality of the 2020s will dictate its necessity as a pragmatic solution to a systemic problem.