A major challenge in primary healthcare 

Primary healthcare is in crisis all over the world. A large part of healthcare services is mass-produced and very often created with a focus on healthcare instead of patients’ needs. The treatment of patients is insufficient, i.e., the treatment does not follow the national Current Care Guidelines. Patients are treated on a calendar basis (e.g., annual visits) and the healthcare service has no information about the patients’ quality of care between visits. Currently, patients who do not need treatment burden the healthcare system, and patients who do need treatment do not have timely access to care due to limited healthcare resources.  

Healthcare is unsustainable in many respects because the costs of treatment have become prohibitive and the achievable health benefits have run into diminishing returns. This causes a great burden in healthcare, especially for nurses, who are heavily under-resourced and under pressure, as the shortage of nurses worsens year by year due to the Western demographic structure. 

Sustainable renewal of healthcare 

The sustainable renewal of healthcare requires building a common vision of how we want our healthcare to function in 2030 and what the role digitalization has in the realization of the vision. Before creating a vision, it is important to form a situational picture of Finnish healthcare and its wellbeing services county specific 1) structural and functional capabilities, 2) existing and required resources for providing health services, 3) management models and systematic measurement of results, and 4) the way digital infrastructure and services work as part of the system. 

Digitalization is one of the most important opportunities to increase the productivity and cost-effectiveness of healthcare. The transformation of healthcare is progressing, and Finland is doing well in international comparisons, although behind the leading countries. The structural reform of Finnish healthcare gives us a good opportunity to redeem the productivity promises of digitalization. If the reform fails to utilize digitalization towards sustainable healthcare now, we will have to pay the price later – when it will be more difficult, slower, and more expensive. 

Impactful digitalization of healthcare requires a comprehensive approach and implementation of value-based services to care pathways 

We lose a great opportunity to transform healthcare if all stakeholders don’t have a shared vision about the role in digitalization and they are not actively involved in transition towards impactful and sustainable care. The journey towards the full use of digitalization requires a comprehensive strategic level approach, which considers 1) coordinating interplay of existing care practices and new service models 2) the formation of a work culture that supports renewing operations and 3) the development of a digital infrastructure that enables operations and serves future needs. By doing this, we can create a sustainable entity that supports the day-to-day activities of healthcare, where the central part is effective and automated digital services for improvement of care, care management, and logistics. 

We at Orla believe that impactful digital solutions are the most effective way to promote the effectiveness of primary healthcare in the future. To increase awareness of this important theme, we produced the ‘Effectiveness-based healthcare 2023’ webinar series in a collaboration with Roche Finland and Orla DTx during the spring. The last part of the webinar series ‘Pilots promoting the health impact of wellbeing services counties’ brought together a wide group of healthcare professionals, and in total we brought together more than three hundred professionals. 

Jaana Ahlamaa (medical director, LM, MD) from Ahlamaa Consulting was the host and introduced the webinar. Ahlamaa highlighted what is required from the point of view of social effectiveness in evaluating services and development projects that are to be procured and put into use on a large scale. Here are the essentials from the brilliant introduction: 

  • When properly implemented, the benefits of digitization for healthcare are remarkable: they promote access to care and the availability of treatment, the implementation of needs-based healthcare, data-driven management and remote monitoring, free up the capacity of the service system and guide the allocation of the resources used, and improve commitment to treatment and patient self-management. 
  • Impact in the context of healthcare is evaluated by comparing the benefits of the service with, for example, existing treatment practice, no treatment or preventative care. 
  • When evaluating cost effectiveness, the costs with which the effects are achieved and the ratio of additional costs to the achieved benefit are considered. Particularly important is the real-world impact of the service – how it helps patients and healthcare professionals in their daily routines and activities. 
  • Evaluation of a real-world impact of digital solutions requires reliable measurement methods. For example, the patient’s perceptions of health and wellbeing may differ. With the help of digital solutions, measuring real-world impact and collecting customer experience becomes easier and renews care practices. It includes all collected and accumulated health and well-being structured data produced by patients (PROMs and remote monitoring measurements) and healthcare systems (lab, imaging etc.). 

Orla DTx and Buddy Healthcare modernizing healthcare 

We heard about the benefits of effective digital solutions from two wellbeing services counties and a pioneering company. 

Buddy Healthcare and Satakunta wellbeing services county explained how the automation of care management can make care work more efficient and improve the customer experience. 

Orla DTx and the Northern Ostrobothnia wellbeing services county Pohde described how digitally supported patient self-management for patients with atrial fibrillation improves treatment results. The work is part of Sitra’s digital therapeutics pilots, which explore the benefits of digital services to achieve better treatment results with proven cost benefits. 

Here are the videos of a brief summary of the webinar (in Finnish) (Orla’s LinkedIn) and the entire webinar (in Finnish) from Roche’s website