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Growth and well-being from health data – five recommendations for Finland

Digitisation and the efficient use of data offer tools for an effective reform of the healthcare sector and business growth. Sitra has put forward measures for stakeholders to help Finland establish itself as a leader in this field.

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Kirsi Suomalainen

Lead, Communication and Public Affairs, Sitra

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Although Finland is a pioneering country in the use of health data and the digitisation of healthcare, it is currently at risk of falling behind in the fierce global competition in this area.

Sitra has conducted a study into the competitive capabilities and growth potential of the Finnish innovation environment. The 2010s saw a series of excellent initiatives to develop the operating environment and capabilities. Most notably, the 2014 growth strategy published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment listed a number of effective measures. However, implementing and following up on these measures is no longer enough, and new measures are needed to establish Finland’s position as a leader in the field.

“Initiatives and investments should be converted into practical solutions and business much more quickly than is currently the case,” says Minna Hendolin, Leading Specialist at Sitra. “Therefore, we have come up with five measures to secure Finland’s position at the forefront of responsible health data use and establish it as a cradle of new business.”

The study highlighted a series of challenges, including slow implementation of strategies and a lack of resources, which need to be urgently addressed. The study also identified a number of remedial actions that by 2030 could establish Finland as a global frontrunner in the responsible use of health data and promoting new business.

The strategy for well-being and healthcare aimed at strengthening the role of digitisation and the data economy should be reviewed and updated and its implementation accelerated. Sitra’s new working paper proposes the following measures.

  1. The healthcare sector should adopt a shared national vision and assume ownership of the implementation of the strategy.
  2. Legislation enabling development should be finalised without delay.
  3. Contracting practices should be reformed.
  4. A development programme for the healthcare funding environment should be launched.
  5. The interfaces between data systems should be made compatible and secure.

Sitra’s goal with the working paper in Finnish (Seamless and secure health data – five steps to a fair data economy 2030), which is based on expert interviews, is to initiate public debate and pave the way for the next advances to be achieved in the healthcare operating environment.

The working paper is aimed at healthcare-sector stakeholders and policymakers as part of Sitra’s Health Data 2030 project for building a human-driven, fair data economy based on European values.

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