There is broad agreement across party lines in a number of areas, including increased investment in medical research and development and digitization of health care data. The next steps include identifying areas that should be dealt with nationally and involving the county councils. Among the challenges are innovation procurement, prioritizing existing solutions and difficulties in obtaining national health care data.
Research misconduct is about much more than the spectacular Macchiarini case. Academia needs to become much more attentive to insidious everyday small steps down slippery slopes.
Health care faces major challenges, and solutions include everything from artificial intelligence to more collaboration with the private sector. Education is also part of the solution.
But how do our political parties plan to meet these challenges, if given the opportunity to do so by voters? The Research!Sweden foundation decided to investigate this and sent a questionnaire to the parties with questions about:
- Excellence in research and education
- Quality-driven health care focusing on the patient
- National structure for following up treatments
- Internationally competitive business climate
All parties except the Swedish Democrats responded and were thereby invited to the Research!Sweden discussion in Almedalen. Read the survey responses with the parties’ comments.
It turned out that the parties agree across party lines on a number of major issues and see good opportunities for being able to make progress, regardless of which government is in power:
- Investments in medical research and development for health should increase,
- prerequisites for collaborative research and innovation processes in the life sciences sector should be expanded,
- there should be formal qualifications for work on research and development with the aim of supporting patients, the health care system and the national economy,
- the requirements for the profession-driven evaluation of treatment, education and research in health care should be strengthened,
- the government should prioritize work on digitizing heath care data and ensure resources for accelerating the implementation of national standards and administration that make it possible to synchronize and collect data in Sweden.
“We should take note of what we agree on and start working on it,” Jonas Eriksson, group leader and member of Parliament (The Greens) commented.
“If we sat down together and focused on solving a national challenge instead of bickering, it could be done,” said Barbro Westerholm, a member of Parliament (Liberal party).’
As such, the discussion became more of a conversation than a debate. Helene Hellmark Knutsson, minister for higher education and research (Social Democrats), noted that we need to identify areas where national leadership is needed and involve the county councils.
One area that came up was the importance of innovation procurement to achieve new solutions in health care. Helene Hellmark Knutsson mentioned medical technology procurement in Sahlgrenska University Hospital as an example. But this is not self-evident.
“Today, we procure what we want to have, instead of what we want to achieve,” said Party Secretary Acko Ankarberg Johansson (Christian Democrats).
Despite the consensus, there are many issues left to resolve, and the audience posed a number of specific questions. Håkan Lösnitz (Swedish Democrats), a politician with a focus on health care in Region Västra Götaland, wondered if there could be a national medical record system. It’s doubtful.
“Not from the point of view of privacy, but the systems have to be able to talk to each other,” said Acko Ankarberg Johansson.
Ann-Marie Wennberg, director of Sahlgrenska University Hospital, wanted to know how different decisions about expensive drugs among the regions affect the equality of health care. It’s complicated, Barbro Westerholm (Liberal party) said, but she also argued that it’s ethically indefensible not to provide treatment.
Ole Petter Ottersen, president of Karolinska Institutet, brought up the conflicting objectives of research in Sweden – which he felt were more prevalent than in most other European countries. One such conflict is internationalization and immigration policy, an issue that is not really within the scope of this debate.
Broad interest in person-centered care
Person-centered care is an issue of the future. Many different organizations – from pharmaceutical companies to patients’ associations – held seminars with health care professionals, patients, students and researchers. Sahlgrenska Academy was represented by the GPCC’s (Center for Person-Centered Care) Ida Björkman, Sara Wallström and patient representative Hans-Inge Persson. Read more about person-centered care in Almedalen.
Research misconduct – small cuts are the worst
Ignorance, deceptive behavior and complicity. These are factors when there is cheating in research, says Stefan Eriksson, advisor to the vice-chancellor on good research practices, Uppsala University.
Under the heading “After Macchiarini – Can We Sustain Good Research Practices and Combat Fraud and Research Misconduct?”, he was questioned by Stig-Björn Ljunggren, political scientist at the Uppsala University.
Stefan Eriksson chose to leave the high-profile cases aside and instead focus on what he describes as extensive everyday problems in academia. Phenomena and behaviors that many, especially younger researchers, often become very upset about.
Among other things, this can involve the way commercial parties exercise influence over when and how results are published, which may place researchers in an uncomfortable position, and also how hierarchies and power relationships within academia can influence who gets credit or not through co-authorship.
“Everyone is aware of Macchiarini and the other major bad actors, but what really wears one down are these small everyday cuts that occur in research. And those who say that this is the way things are done in science, they are the ones who are co-conspirators,” says Stefan.
You wind up in a culture, something like cronyism.
– Stefan Eriksson
MARGARETA GUSTAFSSON KUBISTA
ANNA von PORAT