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Finland: Innovations Live Here


The average life expectancy in the world has increased from 47 years in 1950 to 73.2 years in 2020 posing a new challenge for today: How to ensure the availability of high quality medicine and new technologies for more accurate diagnostics and treatment of chronic diseases. Finland is a global leader in its integrated approach to treatment of complex diseases, including cancer. New technologies make it possible for oncology clinics to push on to a new level both in terms of streamlining the work of the medical team, and in terms of improving the quality of life of their patients.

When establishing a method for measuring economic strength, the World Bank identified four pillars as the development framework for countries relying on R&D and knowledge. A knowledge-based economy creates opportunities for new enterprises and improvement of social norms for the population. R&D can be successfully measured as the share of gross domestic product (GDP) invested in the sector: the average for developed OECD countries is around 2.4%. The USA and Japan’s investments are slightly higher, about 2.8%. For the European Union, this level is around 1.9%. The recently approved EU financial strategy envisages an increase in aggregated R&D expenditures by about 50% over the next seven years to € 54 billion. Finland has more than doubled its R&D spendings since the early 1990s up to around 3.5% of the GDP.

Innovations for patient-centered care

What are the benefits of R&D investments and how can they be measured? Classical valuation methods opt for numerical metrics that include scientific publications and citations, degrees and international awards, patents, and company startups. One of such startups is Kaiku Health, founded at Aalto University by five software developers who were inspired by a mission to improve healthcare. Now the company employs over 50 people and the platform is used daily in more than 40 oncology clinics throughout Europe.

Kaiku Health is a digital patient- reported outcome monitoring platform offering ongoing monitoring for cancer patients.

One of the advantages of the system lies in the simple integration into the existing operating system of the clinic without installing any additional equipment. Once the patient agrees with the oncologist’s treatment plan, he or she gets connected to Kaiku Health platform. Kaiku can be used with any device that has an internet browser or as a mobile app for Android and IOS. Based on the daily analysis in terms of fatigue parameters, breathing rate etc., Kaiku Health screens for relevant symptoms of patients, such as fatigue.

Reducing the number of hospitalizations

The collected data is analyzed by the algorithms of the Kaiku Health platform resulting in a personalized report on symptoms as well as instructions on steps and actions how to improve the patient’s health status. For instance, in the event of skin reaction, the patient can instantly take a photo so that the entire team of oncologists treating the patient can immediately step in. Thus, the patient does not need to “listen to himself” or bring the situation to a state of hospitalization, nor does he or she need to “turn on excessive vigilance” and call the oncologist to prevent something that is not yet there.

Approximately 90% of patients using the platform follow the prescriptions sticking to the treatment schedule, which improves the quality of their lives and reduces the number of hospitalizations. The average age of Kaiku Health users is 64 years. The platform is very user friendly and represents the usual set of actions – as when registering for any modern app. The patient can do everything independently or ask a friend or family member for help. The patient receives an invitation to register by e-mail and if the password is forgotten or lost, he or she just needs to request a new one.

Foreign patients stay connected

Docrates Cancer Center in Helsinki is using the Kaiku Health platform that has become especially convenient during COVID-19 pandemic. Foreign patients who went to Helsinki for an examination, diagnostics or treatment are returning home equipped with a unique opportunity to stay in touch with their medical team comprising of a leading doctor, radiologist, nurse and other professionals who monitor the patient’s health. Every morning, the patient measures blood pressure and reports the readings via the platform. The team checks the data immediately noticing any deviations and can schedule a video call to provide recommendations on how to improve the patient’s condition, and then send them in written format. At the moment, the platform is available in Finnish, Swedish, German, French, Dutch and Spanish.

Photos: Kaiku Health