chairman's column

One of the largest reforms in the health and social care system is about to take place in Finland during its 100 years of independence. This reform can be realized only if the basic laws are finally accepted by the Finnish parliament in June 2018.


The idea of the reform is to provide cost-effective and patient-oriented services, irrespective of where people live, their age, health status, economic situation or societal status. To this effect, the primary health care system must be strengthened and increase patients’ options to enable them to choose their services from public, private or nongovernmental organizational providers. Health and social care systems have to be integrated together to handle their costs as a whole. This is also important when the impact of rehabilitation is to be assessed as an investment at the individual and societal level.


The governmental committee reforming rehabilitation in Finland undertook its work in 2016-2017. The goal of this committee was to renew all rehabilitation services in Finland. Rehabilitation services were to be integrated more tightly with other forms of health care. Healthcare professionals working in the healthcare service must be knowledgeable about where rehabilitation services are available for the patient in a timely and cost-effective way. Direct access to a physiotherapist is one example of such a service provided in primary health care. Case management and patient counseling is also an important part of the rehabilitation process. Rehabilitation must be continued after the acute phase in the person’s own environment.


WHO has called into action Rehabilitation 2030. This strategy acknowledges fundamental challenges to rehabilitation. In western societies, patients’ rehabilitation needs are not always met. In our countries we may have the resources for rehabilitation but patients are not informed how and where to access them.

ICD-11 will be published by WHO, evidently on June 2018. In addition to codes for health problems, it also includes ICF-based codes for functional ability. This is a marked change in thinking: a person’s functional ability has to be taken into account as part of their health status. It is envisaged that this change in thinking will enhance the position of rehabilitation in our societies. 


The Finnish Society for Rehabilitation Research and Development (SRRD) recently had its 30 year anniversary. SRRD has been active in reforming Finnish social and health care services including rehabilitation. SRRD has focused its work on the research and educational aspects. The research resources in rehabilitation must be secured to support the increased national activity in this area. Education in rehabilitation needs a clearer focus on the teaching of case management and rehabilitation counseling. At the beginning of this year, SRRD joined with Rehabilitation Foundation to publish the only scientific journal in rehabilitation in Finland. SRRD has also given approval to the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies and by this way it gets support in its scientific education, publishing and international collaboration.

Finally, I would like to remind you that EFFR (European Forum for Research in Rehabilitation) has its next international congress in rehabilitation in Berlin, Germany on April 15-17. The title of the congress will be: ”Rehabilitation – shaping healthcare for the future.” The website of this congress will be soon launched. Meet you all in Berlin!     


Mauri Kallinen chair