Healthcare has come to an interesting turning point
Healthcare in Finland and elsewhere in the world has come to an interesting turning point. Due to economic realities the roles of clinical staff and consumers will change radically over the next few years. The change relates to economic and social interest factors, such as digitalization, cognitive technologies and automation. These have great potential to increase people’s interest in taking more responsibility for their own health. There is a revolution underway along with significant opportunities for the health technology industry. We have a significant concentration of expertise in Finland and technologies already exist. Our success depends on our ability and desire to collaborate more openly.
Managing your own health
The strengths of the Finnish healthcare system have traditionally been good treatment results, social equity and cost-efficiency. This is a sound base for a new kind of service model, in which the consumer becomes a co-producer of the service itself, something that in the past has been the sole responsibility of the doctor or nurse. The consumer will take a more active role in knowledge acquisition – and become the “CEO” of their own health.
Disease prevention, identification and recovery will move increasingly to the home from the hospital. The hospital or health center of the future will be a virtual, as well as physical place. The consumer will be able to choose to visit the doctor’s office via the couch or over the phone from their summer cottage jetty. Sensors coupled with smart algorithms will become part of everyday decision-making in healthcare. Service provision will be distributed between healthcare professionals and end-users.
Finland has a tradition known as “talkoot” (community effort) where neighbors – and sometimes strangers – get together to build, fix or clean for the benefit of the community.
Enabling the transformation of healthcare service provision requires advanced technologies alongside more open innovation. Open innovation is an effective medicine for speeding up the restructuring of healthcare. Open innovation breaks down silos. By sharing ideas, enthusiasm, information, vision, successes and failures, we can build trust and achieve our common goals.
To be successful Finnish healthcare needs a competitive ecosystem. This must be a nationwide effort, combining the resources of service providers, industry, NGOs, donors, public authorities and citizens. Our common ground is easy to find: to help people and to create growth and jobs.
The best innovations are likely to be created locally, as hospital districts and university hospitals are able to play a key role in reforming healthcare. They also have the opportunity to drive economic growth.
I sat last fall at the University of San Diego’s healthcare-themed workshop. I was surprised to find that the people around me were all representing very different institutions, ranging from hospitals, universities and start-ups to established businesses. Overall, everyone shared a common vision and a style of seeking consensus. Above all there was the feeling of genuinely benefiting from cooperation. Networking, collaboration and partnering are definitely strengths of American society, including healthcare.
Consumer contributions to innovation
Open innovation relies heavily on the involvement of consumers i.e. the inclusion of service users. As we shape the future of healthcare it is important to place the customer experience at its heart. Part of the idea of distributed service provision is that users tell what kind of services they want to consume, when, and where. Our task is to improve the conditions for success, and we need to adopt a positive image of consumers as healthcare service users.
People are able and willing to take care of their own and their family’s health if they are motivated and are offered easy-to-use tools. I believe consumers are modern healthcare’s least utilized resource.