Through the annual Areas of Advance prize, Chalmers rewards a person who has made an outstanding contribution to a sustainable society by integrating research, education and utilisation. At CHI, which is connected to the Life Science Engineering Area of Advance, researchers have succeeded in doing exactly that through a series of initiatives that have attracted attention. Among other things, they have increased the number of Pap smear tests in a segregated area by 42 %, eliminated operation queues at a surgical clinic, found ways to involve patients and relatives in development work and presented a model for care of older people with complex care needs and multiple long-term conditions.
“I feel honoured to receive the prize and gratified that the work at CHI is being appreciated. Our idea is based on creating a needs-oriented and interdisciplinary research environment in which health care is combined with management and organisational expertise. We began this work ten years ago due to a explicit need from the health care sector. It has been a fantastic journey, and many have participated in making CHI what it is today. It is especially rewarding that the prize emphasises the interplay between research, education and utilisation – something I am passionate about and that always has been a starting point for CHI as well,” Andreas says.
Within CHI, Chalmers works in close collaboration with the Swedish health care system with the aim of developing strategies to improve health care services. Over the years CHI also has trained more than 330 health care professionals.
The health care system has not kept up with development
Rewarding activity that contributes to sustainable development is a central component of the Areas of Advance prize. In Andreas' case this is manifested in an ambition for the research conducted by him and CHI to be able to hand over well-functioning social systems to future generations.
“Quality development, which is our main focus, plays a key role in efforts to ensure sustainable health care in the long term and access by future generations to well-functioning, high quality care,” Andreas maintains.
The challenges he anticipates are a growing population of elderly people and more patients with chronic conditions. That creates a greater need for care at the same time that today’s medical expertise makes it possible to treat more illnesses.
“From a medical viewpoint, Swedish health care is in a really good position. The problem is more a matter of organisation. The health care system simply has not kept up with development and is often too complex and fragmented. As a result, things fall between the cracks and information gets lost, which in turn creates difficult working conditions for personnel and can lead to unnecessary suffering for patients and relatives. As we see it, this is where our interdisciplinary approach makes an innovative contribution,” Andreas explains.
The prize money will further develop CHI’s work
This kind of cross-boundaries collaboration is one aspect taken into account when the prizewinners are designated.
“I have always been attracted to issues and environments that allow the opportunity to combine different perspectives. I assume that my educational background as an engineer and sociologist comes into play,” Andreas comments.
Since 2011 he has shared the directorship of CHI with Svante Lifvergren, who is a senior physician and development director at Skaraborg Hospital. Together they make a perfect combination when it comes to merging health care with management and organisational expertise.
“Many of us at CHI are deeply engaged and passionately involved in the issues we pursue. Therefore, I want to use this prize money to further develop our work and do something that more can take part in,” Andreas says.
Andreas Hellström is a senior lecturer at the Division of Quality Sciences at the Department for Technology Management and Economics as well as director of the Centre for Healthcare Improvement (CHI).
In 2013 Andreas was selected as one of four Swedish Vinnvård Improvement Science Fellows – a three-year programme aimed at applied research dedicated to improving health care, and a unique leadership development programme.
Andreas was awarded the Areas of Advance prize during the Chalmers doctoral degree ceremony on 10 May, 2014.
Centre for Healthcare Improvement
Life Science and Engineering
Text: Caroline Örmgård
Photo: Peter Widing