Same challenges, different solutions – TAU is involved in finding best ways to renew the European health and welfare sector
The EU-funded THCS Partnership programme is seeking ways to accelerate the change towards more efficient, high-quality, and equitable care systems.
Launched at the beginning of 2023, the project involves more than 60 organisations in 26 countries, most of them in Europe. Tampere University, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), and the Research Council of Finland represent Finland in the consortium.
University Lecturer Jenni Airaksinen has acted as the chief specialist of the project at Tampere University from the beginning of October. She has worked for more than 20 years in the management, development and renewal of municipalities and regions.
“Tampere University is involved in the project because we want to strengthen our position as the leading Finnish university supporting research, education, and development in the social welfare and health care sector. We also want to offer Finnish developers in the field a direct route to cooperating with the most highly skilled health and social services operators in Europe,” Airaksinen says.
Thinking outside national boxes
European countries are facing the same dilemma in health care and social services: populations are ageing and the need for services is increasing, but there is not enough money or staff to take care of everyone. Nonetheless, health care and social welfare systems have been structured very differently in different countries, meaning that the solutions are also different.
Traditionally, research and development in the field has been carried out nationally starting from local needs. The THCS Partnership programme aims to break this tradition.
“I think that there is much we can learn from each other. In the past, every country has had its own way of reinventing the wheel. In this programme, the idea is to take a broad look at how similar challenges have been solved in different environments,” Airaksinen explains.
Tampere University’s role in the project is to identify functional multi-actor systems that have successfully renewed services. The aim is to create networks of actors in health care and social services, strengthen their ability to utilise new information, and accelerate change.
“Ambitious health and social services development is being conducted also elsewhere in Europe. Through us, Finnish researchers and developers in the social and health care sector can benchmark experiences and gain new understanding with their European colleagues,” Airaksinen points out.
Research funding and support for innovations
The seven-year THCS Partnership project is part of the EU’s Horizon Europe Programme. Via the project, more than EUR 300 million will be allocated to research and innovation.
“This is funding for which all Finnish organisations engaged in the research and development of health and social services can compete. Calls for funding will be opened annually,” Airaksinen says.
The THCS Partnership supports the development of national health care and social welfare systems in different countries through research and innovation. It provides funding opportunities, strengthens research and innovation networks and complements scientific knowledge on the topic. The project also aims to increase know-how on the introduction of innovations and strengthen cooperation between different countries, regions, and administrative sectors.
“We want to create mechanisms by which actors at different levels of health and social services can learn from each other and apply the best practices in their own systems,” Airaksinen summarises.