The current COVID-19 pandemic has driven the need and demand for digitalisation and virtual solutions in healthcare. It is no surprise then that the pandemic has impacted many health tech companies positively, both in Helsinki and globally.
However, despite the abundance of new solutions, finding the right partners and innovations can still be difficult. Helsinki Business Hub, partnered with Amcham Finland, the US Embassy in Finland, and Health Capital Helsinki, invited industry experts from Finland and the US to share their insights on the partnerships between hospitals and companies.
Hospitals look for health tech solutions to existing problems
HUS (Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa) is an active collaborator in the health tech industry. Their digital health ecosystem called CleverHealth Network brings together Finnish and international industry partners and clinical experts. Together with the HUS in-house AI team, they develop solutions for practical clinical cases.
Pekka Kahri, Head of Technology and Partnerships at HUS, gives a service provider’s view on how to find the right partners. “The right experts have to meet around a clinically valid topic. You need to understand and engage in what is the reality of the clinics, so that the solution and the technology you’re providing are solving a real need.”
“Innovation is not that you’re inventing something interesting,” he adds, “innovation is finding a solution that can be taken into real use.”
Health tech should consider the quality of data
Health information guides decisions on personal, medical, and national levels. Therefore, acquiring enough reliable and relevant data is crucial especially during a pandemic.
This poses a challenge to healthcare; a challenge that, fortunately, can be solved with technology. BCB Medical is one of the companies who build data analysis software for healthcare professionals.
“The problem is not that we don’t have enough data,” says CEO Petteri Viljanen, “the problem is, how do we make it make sense to specialists.”
Robin Weiner, the President of Get Real Health, highlights the importance of being able to pull health data from various sources: old and new, from different institutions and states, and also personal devices.
“Finland has a reputation of being ahead in the healthcare world,” she says. “One of the biggest problems we have at least here in the US is getting the data all together in one location. [–] something that we want to see is better integration between the clinics and the hospitals and labs and pharmacies. Another challenge is deep learning from that data.”
Power to the people
Finland is a country of early adopters of technology, and Viljanen and Kahri have had no trouble finding collaborators in the country. However, convincing the general population of the advantages of digital tools is a more difficult task.
Weiner and Get Real Health approach the problem by emphasizing the usability of products. The older generations, for example, are quite familiar with the interface and functionalities of Facebook, so it makes sense for digital health tools to mimic the platform. “We want to make sure that the technology matches the skillsets of that group,” Weiner says.
Alanna Arsenault, Director of Client Project Management at Telus, agrees that investing in usability pays off because digital tools allow patients to not only see their health data but make informed decisions. “Physicians say that they are having richer conversations with their patients,” she comments.
Human relationships lay the foundation for health technology
The panelists share the view that the health tech industry is, despite all of the machinery and AI, a human business.
“The common vision and being able to work towards something together are super powerful,” Arsenault reminds. ”So [you should] build a relationship first and layer on the technology second.”
“The relationships with our clients drives us to get better and better,” says Weiner. “It’s the combination together with the strong people who believe in what you believe in [that] will make a great partnership.”
The human experience should also remain the basis for new technology.
“Healthcare is a personal business,” Arsenault points out. “It can’t be limited in what’s the next new shiny technological widget or application. It’s more than that, and that’s our challenge – how do we build something that’s practical and useful and actually advance people’s healthcare outcomes?”
Watch the webinar here.