Lessons for U.S. healthcare from one of the world's happiest nations

Experts have long known that the United States outpaces other Western nations in healthcare costs while falling far behind on outcomes, but to improve Medscape advises that the American healthcare system should look to one nation in particular: Denmark.

Like nearly every other Western nation, Denmark has a universal healthcare system, but unlike many others, it has worked to eliminate the vast bureaucracy often associated with such systems, according to Medscape. The Danish healthcare system emphasizes local, sharply-focused control, the article notes. This has helped elevate Denmark to the position of one of the world's happiest countries.

Another feature of Danish healthcare that helps it stand out in the crowd is an emphasis on close relationships between patients and primary care physicians (PCPs). Danes average nearly seven contacts per year with their PCPs, either by phone, electronic communication or in-office. The overall goal is to ensure health problems can be treated at the lowest possible level.

In addition to the overall higher happiness ratings, Danish per capita healthcare expenditures are about 10 percent, compared to 16 percent in the United States, the article notes. Research suggests the United States could also save millions of dollars and improve patient safety by doing away with the malpractice system and adopting Denmark's approach to medical errors, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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