JHF Travels to Norway and Finland for Study Tour

Helenski Synagogue, Finland

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation Study Tour took place June 5-14 visiting various sites in Norway and Finland for lively discussions and to learn from key providers and innovators there in patient safety, women's health, aging, dementia care, and teen mental health.

JHF has been studying international health systems since its first study tour in 2009 and has since organized or participated in trips to Israel, England, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, South Africa, Canada, and South Korea. The goal of the study tours is to meet key players in policy, health care, and delivery, as well as recipients of care to see first-hand and discuss how the systems of care are working and extract what lessons can be learned or enhancements to pre-existing systems of care in the United States.

"JHF and WHAMglobal's study tours have proven to be invaluable for our learning, for our network building, and for our opportunities to advance best practice and policy in this country," said Debra Caplan, MPA, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and Board Chair of WHAMglobal.

Study tour participants meet with Bent Høie, founder of UKOM and County Governor of Rogaland (fourth from left), and his staff.

Both Finland and Norway have a head start on patient safety structure with inspiring national organizations. Neither of their organizations set penalties or sanctions, and they do not regulate. They both rely on other organizations for accountability within their systems. Finland and Norway's patient safety organizations are deliberately and staunchly interdisciplinary.

In Norway, tour participants met with members of the Norwegian Healthcare Investigation Board (NHIB/UKOM), an independent government agency focused on creating research studies and using interdisciplinary reflection panels to respond to the studies. The group also and held meetings with Dr. Guttorm Brattebo, Haukeland University; Arvid Steiner Haugen, a nurse researcher engaging patients in the use of checklists; Bent Høie, of the Office of the County Governor of Rogaland; Siri Wiig, PhD, center director and professor of Quality and Safety in Healthcare Systems at the University of Stavanger; and Joy Buikema Fjærtoft, Directorate of Health. At the conclusion of the Norway trip, the group met with Jannicke Mellin-Olsen, secretary of the European Society of Anesthesiology and the president-elect of the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists to discuss patient safety, to reflect on our findings throughout the country.

Tour participants learn from staff at the Finnish Centre for Client and Patient Safety.

Finland has the Finnish Centre for Client and Patient Safety and a national strategy on patient safety. They are aspiring towards worldwide leadership in healthcare safety by 2026, and they have a Healthcare Investigation Authority with over 130 interdisciplinary experts issuing recommendations on safety improvements. In Finland, participants met with Finnish Center for Client and Patient Safety personnel at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, including Hanna Tiirinki from the Safety Investigation Authority; Tuija Ikonen, director of the Finnish Centre for Client and Patient Safety; Kaisa Halinen, senior ministerial adviser at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health; Sonja Jantunen, legal adviser at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health; and Kaisa Halinen, senior ministerial adviser at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Norway and Finland are generally accepted as being two of the best countries for elderly care. Norway supports its elderly in a number of ways, including a government-funded care system, numerous social opportunities, and high-quality public health care.

In Oslo, the tour met with aging sites and partners, touring Oslo's first Dementia Village. Study tour participants also visited the Share-centre in Norway to discuss youth mental health, resilience in health care, and the nursing home workforce.

Study tour participants meet with women’s health specialists at Sentralblokken, Haukeland University Hospital in Norway.

In Norway, a commission was appointed by Royal Decree in 2021 to assess women's health in Norway and health from a sex and gender perspective. The original report was delivered to the Ministry of Health and Care Services approximately three months before the study tour. Participants met with Maria Egeland Thorsnes, Head of Secretariat and Jeanette Magnus, MD, faculty of medicine at the University of Norway, who leads the Centre for Global Health at the University of Oslo, to discuss the Norwegian public commission on women's health and health from a sex and gender perspective and to discuss the recent study on Women's Heart Health. The group also met with associate professor at the University of Norway Dana Cramariuc on sex and gender disparities in heart valve disease.

Dementia Village in Oslo, Norway.

In Finland, visits included Loppukiri Communal senior housing, a communal independent living community by seniors for seniors, and participants learned about prevention of cognitive impairment through the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) study, which highlights the value of addressing multiple dementia risk factors as a strategy to protect brain health, promote overall health and functioning, and reduce the risk of developing new chronic disease. The study tour was invited for dinner at the home of Vappu Taipale, the former head of the National Research Center for Welfare and Health.

Some of the next steps identified from the study tour are to take learning from the national patient safety organizations to inform ongoing work to establish a National Patient Safety Board in the U.S.; connect those working in women's heart health with researchers in U.S. to focus on implementation and lessons learned around blood pressure, pregnancy, and drug and treatment protocols; connect U.S. Dementia researchers and programs with the FINGER study with a focus on lifestyle interventions; introduce the Stavanger University team focused on workforce with the Teaching Nursing Home Initiative led by JHF; and raise awareness of the senior living models experienced on the study tour to the attention of U.S. planners.

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