CHHS Students Experience Global Health Innovation in Sweden

CHHS Students Experience Global Health Innovation in Sweden

In Sweden, health care is a personalized experience. From cradle to grave, Swedes go to the doctor and receive personalized treatment that is customized to  their particular health needs. The country rated number two on the Global Health Innovation Index.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Global Health Index “provides detailed metrics about the innovation performance of 126 countries and economies around the world.”

During the spring semester, CHHS students in the Innovation in Health and Human Services course travelled to Sweden, where they were exposed to a variety of innovations designed to address problems in health care and society, which was a goal of the course.

“We wanted to take students outside Wilmington,” Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, Justine Reel said. “Wilmington is doing a lot of good things when it comes to health care, but we wanted to look at things that would be completely outside of the box.”

Undergraduates and graduates from public health, exercise science, nursing, social work and psychology visited universities in three different towns: Halmstad, Jönköping and Helsingborg.

Reel said it was important for the students to experience more than one place so that they could see the diversity of the country. “Each university has its own personality, and each town is different,” she went on to say.

Students were exposed to a lot of different examples of innovation. On the first day, they visited an intelligent gym, a park that has exercise equipment locals can use for free, at any time of the day. Participants are given a watch that tracks their physical activity. Additionally, they are able to select workout programs using smart watches that sync with the equipment.

In the summertime, Sweden has very long days of light, so residents can come out whenever they want to, to work out. Reel said a woman showed up while they were there and lifted weights.

On the second day, the group visited Halmstad University, where they listened to a series of short lectures on sport and exercise psychology research followed by a tour of the Exercise Science Movement Laboratory. Among the lecturers was Dr. Karin Weman Josefsson, who was the Research Day keynote speaker at this year’s Health and Human Services Week.

On the third and fourth days, the group visited Jönköping University and a local family center, where they participated in several classes and staff meetings, saw presentations on how to improve the health care process and toured facilities. Further, the students engaged in discussions about co-production, which means working closely with patients and how to address the whole patient. Several Jönköping University graduate students presented their final exams in English to the UNCW group.

Public Health Studies student Alejandro Ramirez said the exam environment was much calmer in comparison to UNCW’s hectic final exam week.

On the final day in Sweden, the group visited Helsingborg, where they attended the Social Innovation Conference hosted by Lund University. The conference was held in Swedish, but with the help of translators and illustrations mapping out key talking points, the group was able to follow along. They learned about how the influx of refugee populations over the past several years has led to segregation and challenges with homelessness. The conference was focused on promoting integration within society using an innovative program for providing housing for all. Additional lectures in the afternoon focused on social entrepreneurship (i.e., using innovation to solve societal problems).

“Seeing health care and social innovations occur in real-time is just one reason why Sweden is the perfect country for demonstrating innovation to future health professionals,” Social Work student Ashlee Jensen said. “The country’s safety, cleanliness and lovely people are just the icing on the cake to make this country an attractive option for educating students in a safe, clean and welcoming environment.”

Reel said the experience was a way for the students to see Sweden from the perspective of a Swedish student. Given that many of them had never been out of the U.S., the trip was a great opportunity to experience a different view of health care as a right for all citizens.

Click here to experience the photos.