We enjoyed visits to numerous and varied healthcare organizations. First, we toured a private hospital in Stockholm (Sophiahemmet) where they highlighted the efficiencies to be gained when hospitals choose a mix of both publicly and privately funded services. On our second day we visited the Swedish Association for Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), a body that governs the 20 County Councils in the country. The Stockholm County Council also welcomed us, outlining how health care is delivered in Stockholm County and the responsibilities of each county council. Our trip ended with a thought provoking visit to Leading Health Care, an academic think tank promoting the collaboration of partners in health care to ensure its sustainable delivery.
By participating in the Sweden study tour, students were exposed to different approaches for health care service delivery and the various methods used to promote the use of primary health care resources. Studying a country that has a successful electronic health records system and pharmaceutical program also gave students an opportunity to recognize the possibilities that exist for the Canadian health care system. Each organization that we visited began presentations with comments like “I believe that Canada’s system is similar to ours…” which led us to believe that the tax based health care system we have in Canada can be as successful as the Swedish health care model. Focusing on health status outcomes and making health care a top priority for all citizens is Sweden’s approach –leading them to become one of the best in the world. Canadian health care leaders can use many of the lessons learned in Stockholm to improve our system’s successes.