Cancer is a global problem affecting people everywhere and there is a constant drive to offer the best treatment possible. And a cancer hospital in Finnish capital Helsinki is tapping into digital technologies to find new, innovative ways to improve patient care.
Finland is among the highest performing countries in the world when it comes to the positive results of cancer treatment, but there is always room for improvement. Which is why the Helsinki University Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) is turning to crowdsourcing to find the best solutions, innovations and technological expertise to improve patient care and effectiveness in the treatment process.
“Very often the solutions we are offered and the needs we have do not meet. So we started to wonder how could we better understand the needs of our patients and researchers and match them with the right companies,” explains Tuula Helander, Development Manager at the Helsinki University Hospital Cancer Center. “This is how the idea for a shared innovation platform started.”
The title of the project is ‘Kertomalla Paranee’ (‘Improve by Sharing’) and it works by bringing together the cancer centre, patients and companies to identify the biggest issues for patients and new ways to tackle them. The kertomallaparanee.fi open online platform is used to let anyone in Finland propose ideas on how cancer treatment or patient care could be improved. Then these ideas are opened for companies to explore and find potential solutions.
The goal is to bring the real needs of patients front and centre while offering companies of all sizes an opportunity to introduce their products and services to the public health care sector.
A platform full of ideas
During the four months the online platform was open to the public, the project received over 220 proposals from users around Finland. Of these, the Cancer Centre identified four themes with the greatest need for innovation: better wigs, a more homely hospital environment, ‘smart hospital clothing’ that could aid cancer treatment, and digital tools to improve patient communication and monitoring both inside and outside hospital.
Now the online platform is open for companies to submit their ideas on how to tackle these issues and CCC and its partners will choose up to five to work with. The aim is to have the first pilots ready by the end of 2016. CCC will also act as the first reference customer for these products and services.
“The companies will be able to get inside our world and vice versa. We hope to create real public-private partnerships,” Helander says. “Public health care opens up its doors and gets close to the companies, which has not been done before.”
The project has been supported from the start by a network of partners, including private companies Novartis and UPM, the Health Startup Association of Finland (HealthSPA) and public agencies Sitra and Helsinki Business Hub (HBH).
Talking about the role of HBH in particular, Helander explains:
“The role of HBH is to get small and medium sized companies involved, which is really important for us. Also they have helped us to understand how companies think. HBH has been to one to bring up the problems, thoughts and hopes of companies on how the innovation collaboration could be executed.”
The innovation project also has a wider goal beside finding new services. The aim is to build a digital platform and concept for public-private collaboration that could be used across the health care sector. Impressed by the results so far, the Hospital District of Helsinki has already decided to expand the concept to its other hospitals and interest is growing outside Finnish borders as well.
CCC is the first cancer centre in the Nordics to be accredited by the Organisation of European Cancer Institutes (OECI). This means any services born out of the pilot project have the door open to customers around Europe and CCC is happy to share with them the whole innovation concept:
“We have the potential to become a global example of how to bring companies and the needs of patients closer together. If we are successful, this will be a significant achievement globally,” Helander concludes.
Mr. Kimmo Koponen
Senior Business Advisor, Helsinki Business Hub
tel. +358 44 757 2244