Finland’s world-class cancer care is also available for patients from other countries. Docrates Cancer Center is the leading private cancer hospital in the Nordic countries and has treated patients from over 60 countries. Located in Helsinki, Docrates specialises in cancer diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care. Its specialist physicians have treated almost 30 different types of cancer.
Docrates offers a comprehensive cancer treatment package for visiting patients and has established an international reputation for the quality of its services. There are three main reasons why patients from outside Finland come to Docrates.
“We provide diagnosis and treatment without any delay, use the most advanced technology and treatments available, and offer our services at a competitive price. Some of the new types of imaging and/or treatments are not necessarily available in the patients’ home countries or even in the public sector hospitals in Finland,” says Ilpo Tolonen, CEO, Docrates.
Fast and personal service
Cancer patients need timely and accurate diagnosis promptly followed by treatment, not waiting and uncertainty. In many countries, including neighboring Sweden, patients may have to queue for weeks or even months to see an oncologist – followed by more delays before imaging and diagnosis, the preparation of a care plan and the start of the treatment.
“Our customer promise is that you can meet an oncologist in 1-2 days after contacting Docrates. It is possible for a patient to start receiving treatment one week after contacting us, since all the required imaging, tests and treatment planning is completed during the first week,” says Tolonen.
After a thorough initial telephone discussion with an experienced nurse, a new patient has a 90-minute in-depth consultation with a doctor during the first visit to the hospital, giving plenty of time to discuss the patient’s situation. Each patient is allocated the most suitable specialist doctor according to the type of cancer.
“The doctor and the nursing team remains the same throughout the patient’s treatment period because we know that this continuity is extremely important for the patient.”
Fighting cancer with leading technology and treatments
Docrates has often been the first hospital in the Nordics to adopt new technologies and treatment options.
“Accurate diagnostics is always the cornerstone of personalized cancer care. Docrates recently acquired a state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging device among the first hospitals in Europe. We are also a forerunner in developing isotope diagnostics and treatments,” says Tolonen.
Radioactive isotopes make it possible to identify more accurately where a patient’s cancer cells are located when conducting PET scans. They can also be used for medication with case-specific permission from the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea.
“We have provided many experimental treatments with isotope drugs that have proved particularly effective in cases of advanced metastatic prostate cancer. Thanks to our active collaborative research activities and involvement in international clinical drug trials, we also have other completely new types of treatments that will only become available for wider public use in a few years’ time, once the medicines are finally officially approved to be used in Europe commercially.”
Docrates Cancer Center is also highly advanced in the field of gene expression profile testing.
“For example, in breast cancer cases gene expression profile testing can reveal that the patient does not need to undergo the associated heavy cytostatic treatments. Or it can show that the cancer has mutated and the patient may have become a subject for some specific new medicine,” Tolonen explains.
Active monitoring and support
Docrates’ care package extends outside the hospital and includes an electronic cancer specific remote treatment monitoring system that the patient can use on a mobile phone, tablet or laptop.
“The app is tailored for each cancer type and it is very visual and simple to use. Patients can respond to our questions, send secure emails or even talk to us via a video connection, safe in the knowledge that they are being constantly monitored at home between visits to the hospital,” says Tolonen.
Sometimes visiting patients stay in Finland for weeks or months during the treatment process. Docrates’ staff help with all the practical arrangements to make the patients’ stay as comfortable as possible.
Currently a quarter of all Docrates’ patients come from Sweden, followed by Russia and Estonia. The hospital offers care in Finnish, Swedish, English and Russian, and employs interpreters for other languages. The cost of treatment is approximately at the same level as in the public health care system in Sweden, lower than in many European countries, and significantly lower than in North America.