Logotyp KTH Logotyp Karolinska Institutet Logotyp Region Stockholm

Interview with Funktionsrätt Stockholms Län

Annika Hässler is a specialist in general medicine and pain management, as well as a rheumatologist. In this interview, however, her role is as chairperson of Funktionsrätt Stockholms Län, a patient and disability association that brings together 44 associations in several different disease areas, such as cardiopulmonary diseases, diabetes, epilepsy, and mobility impairment. The association participates in MedTechLab's Patient Advisory.

Hi Annika, what have you been working on for the Swedish elections?

– We have a big launch of a new concept, Functional Impact Assessment, the complicated word we abbreviate FKB. It is based on the UN Convention on Disability and can be compared to the requirement for environmental impact assessments that exist today. We have published a handbook on FKB which can be downloaded from our website. We have also be working on health issues such as assistive devices, rehabilitation, and public transport issues.

What challenges do you see connected to new treatments in healthcare?

– Today there are definitely barriers to bringing in the new methods. This could be for several reasons, such as the difficulty of getting the clinical trials that are needed. A new treatment may be more expensive and stopped for this reason. Tradition has quite a big impact, a clinic does not always want to change approaches and treatments that they know work. Sometimes it is pure ignorance or a fundamental lack of interest in innovation.

How can that be changed?

– It’s not that easy. One way is continuous training of health care providers, something that is otherwise often saved. But this inevitably brings participants face to face with the latest developments, and that is very important. The fact that the method in question becomes public knowledge, for example through the media, can put pressure on patients and patient organisations to start these treatments. Well informed patients mean a lot.

How can more people be encouraged to take part in clinical trials?

– There is a need for more knowledge, for patients and relatives to understand what these involve. It’s also easy to overlook the importance of trust, that’s the most important thing of all. If the patient has confidence in the provider, they are more likely to participate. With the new Swedish law concerning good and equal care, it may be easier to recruit to clinical trials because the law is about expanding primary care. One challenge will be to get hospital doctors to want to move to primary care, which is already understaffed.

How do you see your involvement in MedTechLab’s Patient Advisory?

– The exchange of knowledge between patient associations and research needs to be reciprocal, we can contribute a lot through our experiences. So, I am looking forward to that in our participation with the Centre. Then I see the opportunity in creating joint seminars. I believe very much in meetings as a communication method to increase the level of knowledge, we need interaction, not exclusive printed material.

Read more about Funktionsrätt Stockholms Län on their website