Unsatisfied despite increased spending

Innovation in the health sector is weak despite a monetary spending of NOK 326 billion. This is the opinion of Abelia which is a branch of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), who thinks that the Labour Party is more innovative than the Conservative Party and the Progress Party, currently in government.

They are standing in the exhibition hall at the 37 °C health tech conference in Stavanger, trying to convince passers-by of the blessings of the medical technology that they sell.

Air ambulance doctor Nils Petter Oveland has become an entrepreneur of Prometheus Medical Nordic in addition to his regular work. He no longer is satisfied with writing the research articles the hospital would like to have. He says that he has written five to six such articles, but that there are not many who read them.

– That’s why I became interested in this – because I wanted to influence the treatment of emergency patients. If we have success with our concepts, it will really affect how we treat the patients. That is something that can published instead of research articles.

Complaining about the lack of pace

Oveland is not alone in complaining about the pace of innovation in health care. Even though the spending has increased by 20 percent to NOK 326 billion over the last four years, the health minister Bent Høie (H) is also unhappy with the results. Last week, he stated to this newspaper that there are more pilot[projects]s in health care than in the airline companies Norwegian and SAS combined, but few of them take off and fly, since the healthcare system is not able to change.

Høie is ‘throwing stones in glasshouse’, says Abelia, the association for knowledge and technology companies in NHO.

“It is the minister himself who has the power make the changes,” says Tarje Bjørgum, head of climate and health in Abelia.

He presents whole list of objections. The health system lacks incentives to improve. Refund schemes incentivises yesterday’s solutions. Purchasing schemes do not promote innovation, and leaders are not incentivised to make improvements. The state is development solutions that the market can already offer. The state is also developing huge IT organizations that are not innovative. Norwegian healthcare companies are forced to seek customers abroad, because the home market is not open to innovation.