1. Countryside in summer


    Self-care services are a way to increase the well-being of Finns and to target healthcare more effectively.

  2. Electronic self-care services

    Electronic self-care services allow us to shift the emphasis of healthcare from nursing to health promotion.

More on this

Self-care is the future

Finland already has electronic services for promoting well-being, monitoring health and treating illnesses, but the range of welfare services available on the internet and over the telephone is likely to increase considerably in the future. In practice, electronic self-care services make it possible for a physician to treat, for example, an ear infection on the basis of a picture taken of the patient’s eardrum. These e-services can also allow patients to renew their prescriptions and monitor their blood count online, and enable elderly people to live in their own homes for longer with the support of various remote devices.

A high percentage of Finns say that they like monitoring their own health, looking after themselves, and having a say in their treatment if they fall ill. In a society that offers a growing range of increasingly advanced electronic services alongside traditional healthcare, they will have more and more opportunities to do just that.

The biggest challenge is to change the way people think about healthcare; to make them see that the aim is to make their lives easier and to give them more opportunities to look after their own health. Self-care increases welfare across the population, brings economic benefits to society, and allows public and private healthcare services to be targeted more effectively, since healthcare professionals subsequently have more time to treat patients instead of attending to routine tasks.

An ageing population, the trend where patients are becoming more like regular customers, and the cost of more and more advanced treatments are pushing healthcare spending beyond society’s capacity. Finland’s healthcare expenditure still accounts for a relatively low percentage of gross domestic product, but the costs are expected to increase rapidly over the coming years. According to the Finnish Ministry of Finance, age-related treatment and nursing costs will increase by six percentage points by the mid-2030s unless structural reforms are introduced.

Population ageing is also expected to cause a chronic shortage of labour in the social welfare and healthcare sector. According to the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the shortage will be as high as 20,000 people as soon as 2025. Developing electronic self-care services to take some of the burden off traditional healthcare is one solution to this problem.

One of the aims of Sitra’s Welfare from Information division is to contribute to the development of user-friendly electronic services for health promotion. Sitra sponsors research to find best practices, to boost the national economy, and to create conditions for Finland to become an international pioneer in electronic welfare services.

Electronic services allow us to shift the emphasis of healthcare from treating illnesses to promoting health, and make it possible to:

  • increase the welfare and health of Finland’s population – electronic self-care services have yielded extremely positive results both in Finland and abroad, sometimes surpassing the means of traditional healthcare;
  • improve the cost-effectiveness of the healthcare system, ensure an adequate supply of healthcare professionals, and target services at those who need them;
  • offer help 24 hours a day and seven days a week while shortening healthcare queues;
  • contact healthcare professionals more easily, therefore making illnesses easier to prevent;
  • create new innovations and new business, and boost Finnish export trade;
  • reduce health differences among the population and achieve a more even geographical distribution of healthcare services;
  • create new highly skilled jobs.

Sitra has several projects relating to self-care in progress:

Electronic maternity card: An experiment is being carried out this year in the Tampere region which involves replacing the traditional maternity card with an electronic service that allows expectant mothers to access all information relating to their pregnancy online. The objective of the electronic maternity card is to improve the exchange of information between maternity clinics, expectant mothers and hospitals, to reduce the likelihood of mistakes, to improve customer service, and to make monitoring high-risk pregnancies more efficient. Expectant mothers can use the electronic service to share information with their family and friends as well as healthcare professionals and to monitor their own pregnancy and health more easily.

Patient videos: Sitra is studying the effectiveness of patient videos in nursing by means of a series of videos about shoulder surgery. The videos were scripted and produced by Ari Heinilä from a production company called Motion, who himself was recovering from shoulder surgery. The videos show the recovery process from the patient’s perspective and are designed to help others who are considering surgery to make a decision, to speed up the recovery process, to share information and to support surgery patients in their recovery. Self-care videos could become an important tool for nursing in the near future.

The videos are available online (in Finnish only):

Shoulder surgery 1/3, 0–8 weeks after surgery

Shoulder surgery 2/3, 2–6 months after surgery

Shoulder surgery 3/3, 6–12 months after surgery

Electronic health service for the elderly: The University of Jyväskylä and Sitra have set up a collaborative project which involves developing a user-friendly electronic service for the elderly to motivate them to take more exercise and to be generally more physically and socially active. The service can be accessed on a tablet computer or via internet television. The electronic health service is designed to reduce the need for institutional care and to allow elderly people to live in their own homes for longer. The service will be piloted in the Jyväskylä area in the spring of 2013.


Content feed

Internal Content External Content
Blog My genes are not mine alone

Read the thoughts of one expert on the ongoing and complex debate surrounding Finland's genome strategy...

2 years ago by Saara Hassinen

Blog 6.5 million to Mendor, 7.3 million to BetterDoctor... A cause for celebration?

In July 2014, two health technology firms with their origins in Finland were granted a financial boost to the tune of millions of euros by international investors. Investment rounds of this magnitude are such a rarity in Finnish venture capital investment markets that the news was also broadcast by the mass media. Why is this such a positive thing for the whole health technology sector? During...

2 years ago by Ville Koiste

News The modern-day maternity card

It's quaint, traditional and a treasured keepsake. But a trial in Tampere is bringing the decades-old maternity card into the technological era.

2 years ago by Tiina Heinilä

Other site Is digital health the next Finnish gaming?

Let’s start with some interesting facts about Slush 2013: more than 120 startups of the health and wellness industry attended the conference this year. There were two areas specifically dedicated to digital health space: the Health Demo Area and the Health and Wellness Track. With the help of *Sitra*,* Suunto*,* EIT ICT Labs *and* HealthSPA* we could showcase these multiple startups and their disruptive products.

3 years ago from site www.slush.org

Article Busting health myths

Sitra's Gesundheit prize for the gamification of healthcare was awarded to the developer of the hearing test game Herring , Johannes Koponen . Here are some of his observations from the Health 2.0 Fall Conference held in Santa Clara, California, USA. The doctor always knows best. It is important to make a distinction between healthy and sick people, and to refer only to sick people as...

3 years ago by Johannes Koponen

News Top Finnish expertise in the spotlight in the USA

Finland is the hottest spot in Europe for health and wellness innovations. Over 30 leading Finnish health and wellness companies present their expertise at Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, USA.   Finland has internationally high standards of medical research and world-class companies in the health and wellness sectors. This dynamic, innovative environment and a high level of...

3 years ago

Article The stethoscope is history

Pioneer of electronic healthcare, Eric Topol, believes that healthcare is about to experience the biggest revolution in its history. The digital revolution will make healthcare better, easier and cheaper. Mobile technology has revolutionised our life, but medicine has remained largely untouched by it. Although technology can already be harnessed to produce wireless, personified health...

3 years ago

Event Health 2.0 Conference, California

Sitra and Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) have arranged a conference and networking trip to California from 28 September to 6 October, which will include attending the Health 2.0 Fall Conference in Silicon Valley. The event will attract numerous experts and decision-makers in the health and well-being sector. The conference is specifically aimed at companies...

3 years ago by Mirja Gröhn

Event Healthcare of the Future

The solutions for the healthcare of the future are being created now. The discussion will focus on the effects of funding decisions as well as the solutions for organising healthcare. How can the customer affect the service quality? How can we support the promotion of health and reduce treatment costs? Dr. Eric Topol Sitra is organising the discussion in co-operation with the Finnish Social...

3 years ago

Related Themes

2017 Sitra | Usage Rights