The Swedish Model for Preventive Healthcare

Published on October 18, 2017

Fredrik Reinfeldt — Six Key Insights Driving the Future of Quality of Life for Patients

The saying “prevention is better than cure” is as pertinent today as it was when Dutch humanist Erasmus said it five centuries ago, especially now that half of the children born in developed countries will live to be 100 years old. Sweden, credited with having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, aims to live by that rule and relies on such measures as compulsory breast-cancer screening and involving the private sector in its efforts.

Long Life, Good Life

Imagine living to be 100 and still being surrounded by friends of the same age. “This is going to be our future,” said former Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Sweden is not waiting for a healthcare crisis to hit before taking action. Its hospital care system is paid for with tax money and is open to everyone based on need: the patient most in need is treated first, not the one with the biggest wallet or most important contacts.

If you do that with high quality for everyone, that helps to live longer lives, especially for people that aren’t that well off.

Empowering Patients

The Swedish system also empowers patients by allowing them to choose their doctor and treatment, whether through the public or private system. The cost is the same because both are supported by tax money. “This makes people believe they can have more of an impact on their own heath, which is extremely important.”

Most childhood diseases are now prevented by vaccinations, which has had a knock-on effect of keeping women in the workplace, since they no longer have to stay home to care for sick children. Reinfeldt pointed out that no such effect has been noted for men.

To make prevention work, it must also apply to business life.

Bringing in Business

The business community has also been enlisted to help prevent illness. “To make prevention work, it must also apply to business life,” said Reinfeldt. Employers must now pay for the first two weeks of an employee’s sick leave, giving them a vested interest in actively promoting good health among their workforce.