The fact that Lauri Sippola became the managing director of a health technology company was actually quite natural.
'Approximately half my family comprises doctors, the other half engineers,' he states with a laugh.
'The health technology sector has always seemed interesting, and I have also seen that technology and health care do not correlate in the optimal way; the patient's perspective is often overlooked nearly completely.'
The idea for developing a treatment monitoring software that places the patient in the leading role came about in 2012 during a growth entrepreneurship course held at Aalto by Professor Peter Kelly. After the course, Mr Sippola and Joel Lehikoinen put together a group of five friends, who had studied industrial engineering, physics and information networks, and took the idea to the Summer of Startups accelerator and a product development course held by Design Factory head Kalevi Ekman. The company's activities were launched in 2013, and, on the basis of conversations with doctors and patients, the team decided to specialise first in the monitoring of cancer treatments.
'Cancer is a disease where it is of utmost importance to support the patient. We all have someone in our circle, who is affected by it,' Mr Sippola said.
Patient view in Kaiku Health
Netmedi's Kaiku Health is a digital application, which works on mobile phones, tablets and computers and gathers information from cancer patients on how they are currently feeling and on the side effects of their treatment. The application sifts through information, makes observations on deviations and notifies the hospital of these.
'During Kaiku's pilot stage, we heard from treatment personnel that many of the ill effects of treatment did not come up during treatment visits. Once patients were able to report on these in real-time from home, the staff received a great deal more information that was of better quality, and treatment could be planned better for each individual. Additionally, the application makes it easier for patients and staff to maintain contact.'
Research and support
At the start, Netmedi worked in cooperation with the Docrates Cancer Center and later with HUS. The successful pilot garnered attention, and Reaktor Venture invested in the company. From the very start, it was apparent to the team that they would seek growth in the international market. One of the biggest achievements was an agreement with four private Swiss cancer treatment hospitals that belong to the reputable Hirslanden network. Currently, Kaiku Health is used at 20 of Europe's top hospitals, and it has supported over 20,000 patients during cancer and infertility treatments. In five years, the Netmedi team has grown from five people to twenty, and it has set very high objectives.
'We want to grow into the world's leading company in our field, i.e. digital patient monitoring, and we have the potential to succeed at this. Our turnover is increasing steadily, and, in February, financial weekly Talouselämä ranked us among the 10 most promising Finnish startups.'
Lauri Sippola emphasises that in addition to a great group of founders, Netmedi also got a great deal more from Aalto.
"The courses held by Kalevi and Peter have been extremely important for us, and we got our first workspace at Aalto. The entire entrepreneur community and student-centred activities in Otaniemi also provided a great amount of support. Research and evidence-based activity is of key importance in health technology, and a university is the best growth environment for this. Cooperation with companies and, in particular, with HUS and the University of Helsinki's Faculty of Medicine is important, and I feel we should aim at doing more of it.'
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