The City of Helsinki is boosting Innovation platform activities on Health and wellbeing to seek and pilot innovative healthcare solutions together with businesses and third sector organizations. While the ultimate goal is to improve the health of the City’s approximately 635 000 inhabitants, the platform also allows participating businesses and the City to learn from collaborating with each other. For the businesses, it’s an excellent opportunity to find test users, get market references and develop their products and services.
The City of Helsinki has made a strategic decision to build a culture of experimentation. Part of this strategy is collaboration with private sector companies and innovation organizations to test and develop new digital services and products. For the City’s Social Services and Healthcare Division, an important hub for this culture of experimentation is the newly opened Kalasatama Health and Wellbeing Centre.
“The Social Services and Healthcare Division started planning and developing the co-creation and development activities on Kalasatama Health and Wellbeing Centre innovation platform in 2015, together with regional development organizations Helsinki Business Hub and Forum Virium Helsinki as well as Laurea University of Applied Sciences. It is ideal for companies eager to develop their solution and technology,” says Business Development Advisor Sanna Hartman from the City of Helsinki.
The City has already started activities in Kalasatama through the Smart Kalasatama Agile Piloting program. The program model created by Forum Virium Helsinki has been now adopted by the city of Helsinki. One of the pioneering pilots in the program was HealthSkills, which combined an activity application developed by professional coaching software company Coach4Pro and the coaching services of Kisakallio Sports Institute. The application was originally developed for professional use, but the pilot aimed at testing it on a diverse group of private individuals as part of the Heathskills-coaching program.
The HealthSkills pilot provided 20 participants with tools for an active life through the digital coaching application and group meetings with a wellness mentor. The application allowed the participants to keep track of their exercise and rest. Changes in their exercise motivation were followed closely to see the effects of the application and group coaching. The application could also be used by health care professionals to follow their patients’ activities and to offer them instructions and support.
“HealthSkills is a good example of our efforts to pilot new solutions that could potentially complement the services of the Kalasatama Health and Wellbeing Centre. Coach4Pro was able to utilize the feedback from the test users to develop the usability of its application. Experimentation is still new to the City, but we’ve gained extremely valuable experience of agile piloting and how it should be done. The fact that users have varying levels of technological skills helps develop the solutions, and the activities focus on the development of digital services using innovative technologies. ,” Hartman says.
“All in all, Helsinki is an excellent place to develop and test new health and wellbeing solutions. There’s a strong network of collaboration among municipal healthcare, hospitals, universities and business support organizations.”
Fertile ground for scalable digital solutions
Now that the Kalasatama Health and Wellbeing Centre is open, the activities of the innovation platform can become part of the everyday routines. The goal is to bring together private businesses and public healthcare professionals to boost the activity and health of the participants and patients. The experimentation also allows healthcare professionals to contribute their experience and ideas to benefit new services.
“This gives the Social Services and Healthcare staff an excellent opportunity to learn new healthcare technologies and collaboration with companies. Ideally, the testing platform will help develop public healthcare services as well as create new, private services for the benefit of Helsinki’s inhabitants,” says Hartman.
“Helsinki Business Hub had an important role in the development of the innovation platform. Helsinki Business Hub supported us with their valuable business experience and participated in the testing platform steering group. They also helped us find suitable companies to participate in the pilot rounds and choose the most potential pilot projects.”
The next step in the Smart Kalasatama innovation platform activities is the Kalasatama Wellbeing piloting program, which seeks new solutions for urban wellbeing. The program is led by Forum Virium Helsinki and run in collaboration with several big corporate partners in addition to the Health and Wellbeing Centre.
“The Agile piloting programme as a model has been replicated in all the sectors of the city of Helsinki and adopted in several Finnish cities. It has also drawn keen interest from international networks. The program provides a process for procuring and facilitating the pilots that is now widely used in several thematic contexts. Other Finnish large cities are currently running their own piloting programs eg. Espoo in digital services and wellbeing and Oulu in schools,” says Kaisa Spilling from Forum Virium.
“All in all, Helsinki is an excellent place to develop and test new health and wellbeing solutions. There’s a strong network of collaboration among municipal healthcare, hospitals, universities and business support organizations. It creates a fertile ground for services that can be scaled to the entire city and country, and hopefully also to the international market,” Sanna Hartman says.
Text: Anu Jussila