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Recent policy recommendation: Individual's role in managing health data needs to be strengthened

The giants of the platform economy, which have expanded into healthcare, are already looking to enter Finland. Finland has every chance to succeed with its own platform solutions, but it requires overcoming three challenges, say researchers at Aalto University.
Kuvituskuva: Potilas magneettikuvassa
According to the researchers, the individual should be able to allow platform-based companies to use their health data in a jointly agreed manner. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto University

The health and social services (Sote) reform, which has been underway since 2006, will bring many changes to the organization of health care. At the same time, in many ways, less attention has been paid to an even more significant revolution: the digitalisation of healthcare and, in particular, the development of platform-based solutions using health data. It is estimated that better use of IT could reduce social and health care costs by 2.5-5.5 billion Euros between 2019 and 2028.

“Digitalisation can simultaneously improve the quality of health care and reduce its cost. However, there are three big challenges along the way - all of which can be solved,” says Robin Gustafsson, Professor at Aalto University. He is leading the Business Finland-funded Policy Rationales in the Shift to Digital Platform Economy research project, on the basis of which Aalto University researchers issued a policy recommendation on accelerating the platform economy in the healthcare sector.

The recommendations are based on an extensive analysis of more than 100 research articles and a workshop attended by leading experts in platform economy and digital healthcare from the private and public sectors.

Digitalization can simultaneously improve the quality of health care and reduce its costs.

Robin Gustafsson

Finland's three challenges are the lack of incentives and regulation that prevent the scaling of platform solutions in healthcare, the lack of effective, impactful and innovative solutions that utilize health data, and closed and incompatible information systems that hinder the development of platform-based health services.

To solve the challenges, the researchers recommend that Finland strengthens the role of the individual in managing health data. The individual should be able to allow platform-based companies to use his/her health data in a jointly agreed manner. In addition, the individual must be able to export data to Kanta Services. In this way, an individual's health data could be used much more effectively in services that promote health, well-being and quality of life. Such services could include, for example, monitoring services for patients and the benefits of care, assessment of the need for care, rehabilitation services tailored to the individual, or services utilising machine learning for identifying latent diseases.

“Platform giants like Apple and Amazon have already expanded into the health sector and are also looking to enter Finland. Finland has its own, good and reliable solutions, such as the Kanta Service maintained by Kela, but there are many more opportunities," Gustafsson emphasizes.

"By strengthening the role of the individual in managing his/her health data, we can enable the emergence of new innovative data and platform-based solutions to be developed in Finland and from Finland's point of view."

At present, organisational boundaries of the health sector do not encourage data sharing, production of quality data, or the development of a common data sharing model. Building uniformed health care practices is also difficult when data quality is not consistent. Researchers therefore recommend that access to public health information systems be opened up and interfaces developed so that the parties' application programming interfaces do not have to be customized each time.

The policy recommendation is available in Finnish (aalto.fi)

More information:

Robin Gustafsson
Professor, Aalto University
tel. +358 50 316 0981
[email protected]

Niko Lipiäinen
Researcher, Aalto University
tel. +358 50 331 2189
[email protected]

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