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An open letter from Finland to the world: (let´s) get well soon!

The Finns have a few ideas on how the world can get well again – for example Virtual Clinic, KardioKompassi and #FinnishDataDesign.


Jukka Vahti

Project Director, Digital power and democracy


Dear world,

We decided to write because, well, it seems that things are not so well with you. Every day we hear news about poverty, unemployment and insecurity and about how the fear of an uncertain future stirs all kinds of reactions. The gaps in well-being and health are increasing between people and between different countries.

Recently, there has been quite a lot of discussion about the importance of information and facts.

Because there seems to have been some uncertainty about it, we thought we would let you know that information, research and facts do not cause distress. On the contrary, they can be the key to many good things – for example, to more sustainable well-being.

Here’s a practical example: if you knew now that in six months’ time, you would be unemployed or fall ill, you might act in a different way than if you did not know about these setbacks beforehand. Perhaps you would save money instead of buying a new flat? Or find out about your new work, education and treatment options in advance?

In fact, we have already seized the opportunities provided by well-being data here in Finland

In any case, you could make choices based on information instead of just hoping for the best and assuming that things will stay more or less as they are.

Information, both the unique information about ourselves and Big Data, which consists of data masses, helps us prepare for and react to the surprises life has to offer. With information, we can also make our society and the services we use suitable for us in different situations in life.

Are we facing a revolution comparable to the discovery of penicillin?

Here in Finland, we have come to the conclusion that if we have the courage to seize the opportunities to make use of well-being data, we will be able to significantly improve people’s well-being. Very significantly.

We are talking about a leap in well-being that is comparable to the leap made in the 19th century, when the importance of treating the sewage of cities was understood, or in the 20th century, when penicillin was discovered.

In fact, we have already seized the opportunities provided by well-being data here in Finland. It is actually the reason we started to write about all this.

For example, we have developed a virtual clinic to help us reform our healthcare system in a way that will move the focus from treating illnesses to maintaining health and well-being. The virtual clinic will be introduced throughout Finland and it will partly be made possible by the data exchange layer that we have built to enable an effective flow of information between services and people.

Here in Finland, the quality of information resources is already exceptionally high as it is. Because the importance of combining different types of information is vital in the era of Big Data, we are developing Isaacus, a data operator and one-stop shop serving researchers, companies, decision-makers and service developers alike.

Information related to the human genome is one example of an entirely new kind of information that will open up unforeseen possibilities. We have developed the KardioKompassi® (Cardio Compass) service that uses genome data to assess our risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. It is wise to proceed in a controlled way when exploiting genome data, which is why we recently drew up a national genome strategy.

A common factor in everything we have mentioned above is the use of information to boost well-being, research and business.

In addition to a strategies, we require targeted and well-designed services affecting our everyday lives that make the best use of information. Therefore, we have developed the Tajua Mut! (Get me!) concept targeted at young people, which combines the efficient flow of information with new, multidisciplinary co-operation.

Let’s share ideas and be in touch again!

A common factor in everything we have mentioned above is the use of information to boost well-being, research and business. We believe that the use of knowledge, intelligent design of services and ensuring that all people are included are effective ways to see us through difficult times, now and increasingly in the future.

We´re writing about these things now because we would love to share our ideas and make them even better, together with you, world.

Perhaps they could be of greater use for solving the problems we mentioned in the beginning!

We’ll keep in close touch in future, too, won’t we?

Let’s get well soon!

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