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Report: Sustainability gap decreases when regional differences in healthcare and social welfare services are reduced

Government Communications Department
19.10.2016 14.03
Press release 447/2016

By utilising best practices across the country we can reduce the growth in public expenditure on healthcare and social welfare services by EUR 3 billion by 2029. The key issues include the development of the range and content of 24-hour services, harmonised use of specialised medical care services and shorter care pathways.

The reason for the calculated cost-inefficiency of EUR 3 billion is the differences in the practices and service structures between regions. There are differences of tens of percentage points between municipalities and hospital districts in the number of surgical operations, length of care pathways and number of days in hospital. By providing housing services for the elderly and people with disabilities, for example, we can both improve the quality of life of the residents and save on the costs as institutional care is being reduced. 

Concrete models for practices can be found in the most cost-efficient units. These can be applied to cut costs without compromising quality or impact. In the South Karelia Healthcare and Social Welfare District (Eksote), for example, experts from varies fields have been brought together to provide the basic services to children and families. This means that the customers get the services from a single point. Access to services is further facilitated by providing low-threshold services that can be sought by anyone. This has reduced the need to place children outside their home and for child psychiatry and the costs. It also supports early intervention in case of problems among adults and development of substance abuse and mental health services.

In specialised medical care there are several good operating models which have not been disseminated well enough. In the best units, for example, the care pathways of day surgery have been shortened by tens of percentage points. Thanks to a smoother care pathway hip fracture patients can be discharged more than two weeks earlier than in Finland on average. By bringing together and enhancing the competence in emergency medical care we can reduce the need for hospital care.

In basic healthcare the main challenge is to steer the patient correctly into acute or long-term care. This allows to provide effective services according to customer needs.

These are the conclusions of the assessment of the development and savings potential in healthcare and social welfare services. The assessment was part of the Government’s analysis, assessment and research theme for 2016 concerning studies in support of the healthcare and social welfare and local government reforms. The study was conducted by the Nordic Healthcare Group. The mid-term report on the project was published in summer 2016.

Report: Assessment of the development and savings potential in healthcare and social welfare services (in Finnish)

Further information about the Government’s analysis, assessment and research at

Inquiries: Paulus Torkki, Director, NHG Benchmarking, Nordic Healthcare Group Oy, tel. +358 50 338 5500, paulus.torkki(at), Riikka-Leena Leskelä, Senior Manager, Nordic Healthcare Group, tel. +358 50 4100 737, riikka-leena.leskela(at) and Raija Volk, Director, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 263, raija.volk(at)

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