Estimated reading time 4 min

What symbolises medicine in the digital age?

HIMSS Europe 2019 is drawing near. We invite you to see the future of digital healthcare today.


Jaana Sinipuro


I am excited at the arrival of HIMSS Euope 2019 in Helsinki very soon!

For a long time, internationalism has not been about us Finns visiting conferences abroad to look for ideas and to learn lessons for ourselves; internationalism increasingly means actively influencing and taking action, putting ourselves into all we do.

The Finns I have met at different events have in fact been agonising over how we could tell the rest of the world about our expertise more often. It seemed that the only obstacles were resources, courage and lack of marketing expertise.

Being held for the first time in Finland, HIMSS Europe 2019 provides an excellent opportunity to tell the rest of the world about Finnish expertise. Even though it is a single event, it is an important opportunity to influence the field of healthcare technology.

HIMSS is not coming to Finland by chance; attracting the event to the “far north” is the result of work by several people and discussions held over several years.

It was just a couple of years ago in the heat of Las Vegas that I talked about the difficult accessibility and unstable weather of Finland and the risks of hosting the new event.

Now, all of a sudden, we have a large group of people speaking about the increasingly close union of well-being, healthcare and technology, supported by a strong brand.

Finland is an ideal test platform for the new-era data economy

The work is long-term. During the last couple of weeks, I have been touring the world, speaking about what is happening in Finland right now.

The Act on the Secondary Use of Health and Social Data, the interest attracted by the Isaacus project and our recently published policy brief for a European model of fair data economy have attracted a lot of international interest.

It also seems that there is interest in MyData as a phenomenon, whether it is about the importance of digitisation and new technologies that support the UN’s sustainable development goals or the new revenue models of the data economy and securing the digital rights of individuals.

This work is not ordinary work, at least to me personally. I sincerely believe in the importance of the issues I promote.

The event is only a brief moment, but a lot of Finnish co-operation and expertise will be introduced. MyData might just be an ideology, but there are also lots of technical experiments built around it through which it may be possible to implement a completely new kind of model for sharing and using data.

For the time being, only a very few large organisations benefit from platform economy business models, but the entire phenomenon is new and only just beginning to evolve. Therefore, this is the right time to investigate and test whether we can change the direction to be more people-oriented and transparent.

From time to time, discussion about the need for a digital constitution emerges, as the issue is new and difficult to understand and technology allows both good and bad practices.

The future is shaped today – also for health data

When travelling, you see the flags of different countries and their meanings and symbolism are interesting.

The symbol of physicians, medicine and pharmacies is the Rod of Asclepius. It is a staff taken from Greek mythology, with a serpent entwined around the staff symbolising rebirth and recovery of strength and the serpent conveying the power of the god of medicine.

What would the symbol of digital-age medicine look like? Would the symbol include, in addition to the staff and serpent, a human being as well? Or a strange symbol depicting artificial intelligence? How can we tangibly illustrate how more detailed and better analysed data improves one’s own well-being?

While you are thinking about this question, I recommend that you listen to our “Future news 2030”. We are doing our best to enable you to imagine the world in the future and the importance of new technology to your own well-being.

The “premiere” of the Future news 2030 will be held on Sitra’s stand in the Finland Pavilion at the HIMSS event, but it will also be made available on our website at a later date.

The Future news will take a look ahead to 2030. A future in which research is carried out with an increasing focus on people, with increasingly clear principles, and in which technology facilitates the recovery of rapidly examined data for improved health and for making life easier, while the rules of using data are clear and respect people’s fundamental rights.

We are already shaping this future every day with our pilot project partners.

What's this about?