Public health care is rarely described as innovative, but the City of Helsinki is doing its best to change this perception. The Finnish capital is trialling agile pilot projects to find new easily accessible and digital services to expand its own social and health care offerings.
“The idea is that the new centre could also be used as an innovation and development platform for social and health care services,” explains Lars Rosengren, Medical Director at the City of Helsinki’s Department of Social Services and Health Care. “Companies, organisations and the third sector could use it to work together and develop new services.”
This cooperation is now being trialled as a part of Kalasatama’s ‘Agile Piloting’ programme. The City of Helsinki, together with regional development organisations Forum Virium and Helsinki Business Hub, in March launched an open call for digital services that enhance the wellbeing of citizens and support the city’s own social and health service offerings.
The project attracted 37 applications out of which two, KuntoKaverit and Auntie Solutions, were chosen to test and develop their concepts with the residents of Kalasatama.
Physical and mental wellbeing
What sealed the deal for KuntoKaverit and Auntie was their use of new digital tools and the scalability of their concepts.
“These are truly local services because they can be found in your pocket, on your smartphone,” Rosengren says. “They also complement Helsinki’s own social and health care services well.”
KuntoKaverit combines peer-guided coaching and online tools to increase the exercise levels, daily physical activity and social participation of senior citizens. During the pilot three senior residents in Kalasatama are trained to run small, local exercise groups and offer individual coaching for their peers. They also get access to online coaching tools to communicate with group members, give feedback, set goals and provide training advice remotely.
The aim of the pilot is to test the service concept in practice and develop it further with users. The pilot is conducted by the Finnish Rehabilitation Foundation in cooperation with software developer Movendos, which provides the digital tools for the project.
While KuntoKaverit is targeted at the elderly, the mission of Finnish app developer Auntie Solutions is to prevent serious mental problems at any stage of life. Auntie’s service packages mix easy access digital tools with psychotherapy to help people tackle common life crises.
During the six-month long pilot Auntie is particularly targeting stressed young mothers and people who feel lost in their everyday life. A mobile app, online chats and Skype sessions are used to improve understanding of the user experience and the effectiveness of the different digital tools.
Wide range of services
While the two pilots in Kalasatama are still at very early stages, initial responses have so far been positive. If everything goes as planned, the City of Helsinki could eventually start using them as part of its own social and health care services. And its efforts to drive innovation will not end there:
“The idea is to also expand the pilot concept to other areas of Helsinki,” Rosengren says. “This is only the first step to gather experience on this kind of cooperation and co-creation and learn how can it be executed in practice.”
The goal is to create a concept for developing and piloting new services with different partners, from businesses to non-profit organisations. At the moment Helsinki is looking to tap into digital technologies in several areas of health and wellbeing, including how to support patients at home, and offer more flexible consultation options. These services could either be integrated into the existing public health care system or used separately to complement it.
“For customers this means in future they could have access to a wider selection of services than exists today,” Rosengren concludes.
More about Kalasatama’s agile piloting: http://fiksukalasatama.fi/en/
Text: Eeva Haaramo