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EUHA Interview with Acting CEO Patrik Rossi

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The highly anticipated EUHA Members' Assembly will take place from June 12-14 at Karolinska University Hospital. This event will bring together healthcare professionals and key stakeholders from around the world to discuss the future of healthcare in Europe. We met with acting CEO Patrik Rossi who shared his insights on these crucial topics, emphasizing the assembly's critical role in shaping the industry's future.
Patrik Rossi, acting CEO of Karolinska University Hospital, and EUHA President during the first term of 2024. Photo: Fredric Möller Eklund.

For the forthcoming EUHA Members' Assembly, and the anticipated Symposium on the topic of Rethinking Healthcare Systems, scheduled to take place in Stockholm this June, we had the opportunity to interview Dr. Patrik Rossi, the acting CEO of Karolinska University Hospital. We discussed his perspectives on the healthcare challenges facing Sweden, the future of healthcare in Europe, and the imperative for a Europe-wide initiative to address these challenges.

In your opinion, what are the main challenges that the Swedish healthcare system is currently facing?

Given that Sweden has a decentralized healthcare system with 21 independent regions, there is a need for more effective interregional interaction, which is addressed in a governmental inquiry. What I mean by this is that the regional management of healthcare is not suitable for the future. The units are too small. Maintaining such a system is possible but requires significant resources to sustain and expand such interaction.

The imbalance between workforce supply and the healthcare demands driven by demographic changes presents a significant challenge. Addressing this issue requires innovative work methods and the adoption of new technologies. While Sweden is known for its early adoption of new technology, changing work practices, and adjusting the skill mix within the healthcare system are sometimes hindered by a conservative mindset.

Although we excel at integrating new technologies, we must improve how we work both within and across professions. Many of these traditional work practices are deeply entrenched and need to evolve to meet future healthcare needs.

To what extent is the situation in Sweden different from, or like, other EU countries?

Every National healthcare system is unique, and although the principles and challenges could be framed in the same wordings, the potential practical solutions must be adapted to each system. Therefore, sharing experiences, best praxis’s and connecting in networks at several levels is of paramount importance to succeed in transforming healthcare.

What are the most urgent or important challenges to tackle – and how could EUHA help solve them?

Europe is confronting numerous challenges, notably demographic shifts due to an aging population and a shrinking workforce. To navigate these issues, innovative approaches and smart solutions are essential. Addressing each problem in isolation would be time-consuming and resource intensive. EUHA can assist us in identifying and implementing these smart solutions more efficiently.

As we prepare for the Members' Assembly with its theme of "Rethinking Healthcare Systems" and discussions on crafting a master plan for future-proof healthcare, what are your aspirations for the potential impact of this initiative?

To improve healthcare, we must integrate and challenge our healthcare systems at all levels. University hospitals must collaborate more closely with primary care to reach more patients and share their expertise. I believe that the Rethinking initiative can impact our healthcare system in several different ways and on several different levels.

I also believe that it is crucial for patients to move seamlessly between different healthcare facilities, both vertically and horizontally. This flexibility would not only enhance the patient experience but also streamline the dissemination of knowledge from university hospitals to the entire healthcare population. New work methods and structures must be implemented to support this collaboration.

To elevate the standard of care, we need to develop new ways to reach and educate primary care physicians, ensuring they can continually participate in knowledge development. By actively involving primary care physicians in ongoing knowledge development, we can ensure that the higher level of education and expertise at university hospitals is shared and applied in primary care.

In the long run, this will lead to more cohesive and efficient healthcare, benefiting both patients and healthcare professionals. Stronger collaboration between different levels of care and new, innovative work methods are key to achieving a higher standard of care and better health for everyone.

What should the role of university hospitals be in this initiative?

It's clear to me that university hospitals must shoulder more responsibility for patients beyond our own walls, an area where our efforts have fallen short thus far. It is time we devise a fresh structure and format to address this gap.

We are also in need of a revamped approach to ensure that knowledge reaches each patient – an aspect I believe is of great importance, and likely shared with other European countries as well.

In what ways do you believe it is important for this message to come from an alliance like EUHA?

I believe the EUHA will become a more influential voice, strengthening the network’s important role in the future. To have influence within the EU, it is essential to have clear and robust representation. If we aim to transform healthcare, research, and education across borders, extensive collaboration within larger international groups like EUHA is imperative. By working together, we can drive innovation and implement effective solutions that benefit all member nations.

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Dr. Patrik Rossi is a distinguished intensivist with extensive clinical and research experience. Currently serving as the acting Chief Executive Officer of Karolinska University Hospital, he has demonstrated exemplary leadership throughout his career. Patrik has held various senior positions at Karolinska, including his most recent role as Head of the hospital’s Cancer Theme and chair of the Karolinska Comprehensive Cancer Center.

During this time, he has actively contributed to deepen the interaction with Karolinska Institutet in the joint establishment of the Precision Medicine Center Karolinska and ATMP-Center Karolinska. Furthermore, he has actively promoted the establishment of the new nursing and care strategy at the hospital.  With his longstanding involvement in Karolinska’s executive management team, Patrik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the European University Hospital Alliance (EUHA) discussions on current medical challenges and the future of healthcare in Europe.

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