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Boosting the competitiveness of the health sector with the principles of a fair data economy

Innovations in the health sector are created through co-operation, and Finland has a broad range of ecosystems that make good use of health data. With the increasingly diverse use of data, success requires fair rules. Sitra’s new working paper illustrates the present state of ecosystems and suggests further steps.


Kirsi Suomalainen

Lead, Communications and Public Affairs


Competing in the health sector calls for continuous effort, reliable research and innovation activity and diverse high-quality data, such as health data, as well as extensive co-operation. This has been perfectly illustrated by the recent global Covid-19 crisis.

There are hundreds of health-sector ecosystems in Finland, based on solid expertise, shared data resources and a culture of co-operation and trust. Our high-quality data files are unique sources of research and innovation activity.

Staying at the forefront of development requires bold reforms.

The foundation is in order, but soon it will not be enough. Staying at the forefront of development requires bold reforms and a culture of experimenting. The next advance in the development of the Finnish health sector will require increasingly diverse well-being-related data on mobility and grocery consumption habits, among other things, all with people’s consent. New methods are also needed to enhance the co-operation between the public social welfare and healthcare services system and health-sector ecosystems.

The foundation for future solutions that use data, such as advanced analytics and algorithms using artificial intelligence, is currently being created. This requires enabling regulation that is based on a shared value base and the principles of a fair data economy, which strengthen the trust of societal actors, businesses and individuals.

The principles of a fair data economy are not yet a competitive factor in the ecosystems, but the situation is changing.

The role and responsibility of individuals will become increasingly important in the use of data, with data being accumulated from a host of sources, including wellness bracelets and smartphone apps. This new, active role as part of the future health-sector ecosystems will require a strengthening of the resources of the population through communication and education.

Correcting the deficiencies in the current legislation and preparing new enabling legislation is a prerequisite for strengthening competitiveness.

“According to those who took part in a Sitra workshop (in Finnish), the principles of a fair data economy are not yet a competitive factor in the ecosystems, but the situation is changing and they will be shortly. The principles lay a good foundation for sustainable growth and the next stage of development in competitiveness,” says Markus Kalliola, Project Director at Sitra.

Sitra’s new working paper (in Finnish) offers an insight into the current state, challenges and future needs of data-driven health-sector ecosystems. Commissioned by Sitra, Gesund Partners produced the publication as part of the Health Data 2030 project to build solutions and fair rules for the cross-border use of health data in Europe and to support the competitiveness of the Finnish health sector.

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